Star Wars ABCs is a fun 26-part series that partners Star Wars with your ABCs to introduce you to characters, droids, places, and creatures from every era of the franchise, including the newest venture into a galaxy far, far away — The High Republic.
U is for Unknown Regions
The Unknown Regions, also known as the Outer Reaches and Unknown Space, was a vast unexplored region of the galaxy located beyond the Outer Rim on the western side of the deep core and known space. This large swath of unexplored space was a labyrinth riddled with black holes, gravity wells, solar storms, constantly shifting pathways and hyperspace routes, and a myriad of stranger creatures and phenomenon. Many of those brave enough to try and explore the mysteries of the Unknown Regions either failed to make any progress in their adventuring, or disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again.
Despite the numerous dangers within the Unknown Regions, both the Jedi Order and the Empire made progress in mapping parts of its dangerous hyperspace routes, and utilized vital resources from within the mysterious space sector.
From the time of the Old Republic, the Jedi Order made use of the planet Ilum — found within the 7G sector of the Unknown Regions — as a source of kyber crystals, which were the key component used in constructing Jedi lightsabers. For countless generations Jedi younglings made a pilgrimage to Ilum to retrieve their kyber crystals in a special ceremony, known as The Gathering. The Crucible, a Paladin-class corvette in service since the Old Republic, would ferry younglings to Ilum and back, and the ancient droid Huyang — a permanent resident of The Crucible — would instruct the younglings in how to construct their lightsabers.
Following the fall of the Jedi Order, the Galactic Empire began strip-mining Ilum as part of a large-scale terraforming project in which the Empire harvested as many kyber crystals as they could get their hands on to serve as the focusing arrays for the Death Star’s superlasers. The Empire’s mining of the planet was so drastic that a giant trench was created across the planet, known as the Imperial Trench, which left gaping holes and cracks in the planets surface, leading down to its kyber core.
After the Fall of the Empire, remnants of Imperial forces retreated to the Unknown Regions to rebuild and reform. It was here that the First Order was born under the secret guidance of Emperor Palpatine through his puppet Supreme Leader Snoke. One of the First Order’s most important projects was transforming the husk of Ilum into a superweapon that came to be known as Starkiller base. The planet’s kyber core was perfectly suited for channeling superlasers and the First Order used the former sacred Jedi world to destroy the Hosnian System and the New Republic government.
Following the Battle of Endor on the hidden Sith world of Exegol deep within the Unknown Regions, Darth Sidious and his Sith Eternal cultists toiled for years to build a massive armada of Xyston-class Star Destroyers and experimented with cloning force sensitive clone bodies. From Exegol, Sidious directed Snoke, who in turn controlled the First Order’s strikes against the rest of the galaxy.
Besides the well known factions of the Jedi Order, Old Republic, Galactic Empire, and First Order, a number of other civilizations flourished within the hidden sectors of the Unknown Regions. Perhaps the most powerful and best known was the Chiss Ascendancy, of which Grand Admiral Thrawn was a member. Thrawn, who climbed the ranks of the Imperial Navy, was first an officer in the Chiss Navy and was sent into Imperial space to assess the threat that the Empire posed to the Chiss. Besides Thrawn’s mission, the Chiss were frequently in conflict with a number of other civilizations, including the ruthess and nomadic Grysk Hegemony, who almost nothing is known about, including what they look like.
If you’d like to learn more about the dangers and mysteries of the Unknown Regions, you can start with the Chiss Ascendency and Mitth’raw’nuruodo, better known as Thrawn, in Timothy Zahn’s new books series Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising.
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