A longstanding theory that held tons of credence has finally been officially confirmed: Ilum was turned into Starkiller Base.
In The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary, written by Pablo Hidalgo, we read this:
“Properly energized, kyber crystals create containment fields that hold and amplify power to incredible levels. The Empire controlled several kyber-rich worlds, funneling their resources into the Tarkin Initiative’s Death Star development. One unique world in the Unknown Regions, Ilum, had a kyber crystalline core. Most of its more easily accessible deposits were scoured, but there were even larger crystals buried deeper beneath the surface. The First Order continued its excavations and gradually transformed Ilum – a revered Jedi world since antiquity – into an instrument of unfathomable destruction.” (20)
So there it is: officially official confirmation that Starkiller Base was, in fact, Ilum!
But this is something we’ve suspected for a while. I wrote about it not too long ago, after Ilum was seen in Jedi: Fallen Order bearing a striking resemblance to Starkiller Base. But while that was the most visual confirmation we had gotten, the evidence that had stacked up in the years since The Force Awakens was released was nearly impossible to ignore. Here’s the list I put together in that recent article I linked to above:
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base are snowy planets that share the same climate.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base are locations rich in kyber crystals.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base were mined by the Empire for kyber crystals.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base are in the Unknown Regions.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base are located in sector 7G.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base 660 kilometers in diameter.
- Both Ilum and Starkiller Base were planets kept secret from the galaxy at large.
- And now, we know that Both Ilum and Starkiller Base had a trench visible from space.
This was something, then, that has been all but confirmed for a while, so it’s not a massive revelation – but it’s still really cool to have it confirmed.
But going along with this, it also confirms that the Empire had begun the work! I’m not sure that they actually planned to turn the planet into a massive battle station, but they were excavating the planet and mining it for kyber crystals. So the Empire began that project, and since we know that the First Order derived from the Empire, it makes sense that they would continue not only this project but also the idea of a planet-killing weapon. And if you have a planet so rich in kyber crystals, why not develop that into your superweapon?
I think this adds a much richer backstory to Starkiller Base, as seen in TFA, as we know that the planet has such a rich history. It was a precious world to the Jedi, where padawans went to retrieve their lightsaber crystal in a sacred ritual. So the First Order took that world – one so rich with history of the peace-keeping Jedi – and turned it into a system-destroying weapon.
One other tidbit about Starkiller Base that the Visual Dictionary revealed that I think is really cool:
“The micro-star hyperspatial singularity that now burns at the Starkiller’s gravesite has been unofficially named the Solo.” (21)
That’s pretty awesome.