- "Juno, where am I?"
"Some sort of convergence array. According to my schematics, there are seven others just like it spread around the station's dish. The firing tube you were in is just one of sixty-four, all being directed into a single, massive beam. I can't even imagine what the Empire could do with this sort of power."
- ―Galen Marek and Juno Eclipse during the Battle on Death Star I
The first Death Star's superlaser had eight tributary beams arranged in a circle around the concave dish. The second Death Star's superlaser had seven tributary beams arranged around the concave dish in a heptagonal array encompassed by a circle, and an eighth beam in the middle. These beams would then combine to form the main superlaser by the usage of an invisible forcefield in the shape of a cone. The tributary beams were themselves composed of eight smaller beams, which converged in one of the eight Superlaser Convergence Chambers, totaling 64 beam tubes. At the absolute center of the concave dish superlaser were focusing lenses that allowed for the superlaser to be intensified.
Originally, the Death Star's superlaser could only fire at planets and required hours to recharge the superlaser. By the time the Death Star II was built, the superlaser was able to fire on large capital ships and required a much lower recharge time, a matter of minutes. The power source of the laser were special power crystals that the 501st Legion took from Mygeeto on the orders of Darth Sidious. In addition, activation of the Death Star's superlaser was particularly costly to Imperial military, both in terms of finances as well as losing any potential strategic resources in a habitable or resource-rich planet, and thus various restrictions were put into place for the use of the superlaser: A full and current Imperial Intelligence report on a target is required before activating the superlaser; targeting even listed worlds without the explicit authorization of Imperial High Command and the Galactic Emperor is explicitly forbidden; and only personnel with oversector administrative rank and current firing codes provided by the Office of the Emperor were authorized with activating the superlaser.
The first full-scale superlaser was installed in the first Death Star battlestation, becoming its primary weapon. However, it ran into technical difficulties during its development, resulting in the proposition and potential development of the Composite Beam Superlaser as an alternative in the event that the Concave Dish's technical difficulties were far too severe to allow for creation. This weapon had to be manually moved into position by a mechanical arm, and fired proton beams at the targeted planet to rupture the planet's core and render it uninhabitable. Eventually, the Concave Model was chosen for the final design for the superlaser weapon, beating out the Composite Beam Superlaser regular model while a weapons researcher oversaw development in Bevel Lemelisk's stead. At some point during its development, there had been plans to incorporate the Superlaser on the equator of the battlestation. In 2 BBY, Galen Marek traveled through one of the firing tubes in the superlaser dish during the Battle on Death Star I, causing structural damage in the process. During this time, the Imperials were also conducting several test fires at one-minute intervals, forcing Marek to hide from the superlaser when it was fired, and also killing several Imperials unlucky enough to get caught in the blasts during their search for Marek.
The full-scale superlaser was built in the first Death Star and was used six times—it was first used during a Rebel raid on the Death Star, when Rebel agent X2 used the yet-unfinished superlaser to destroy one of the escorting Star Destroyers, then it was fired once with four percent power to destroy the Fortressa, a Lucrehulk-class battleship under Rebel control, three shots were fired as a secret test shortly after, to destroy the prison planet Despayre, and another shot with full power to destroy Alderaan and demonstrate the Galactic Empire's strength. This immense power made the Death Star one of the most powerful weapons in the history of the galaxy. However, before it could fire a seventh time at the Rebel Alliance base on Yavin 4, it was destroyed at the Battle of Yavin.
An improved version was built alongside the Death Star II, which had been responsible for destroying the Liberty and the bulk cruiser Urjani. However, because of the Rebel Fleet forcing various ships within Death Squadron into a broadside battle, it wasn't able to show much use by that point. It was also intended to be used to destroy Endor in the event that the Rebels successfully destroyed the shield generator, although the Death Star II, alongside the concave dish composite beam superlaser, ended up destroyed before it could get a chance to do so.
Behind the scenes
In the StarWars Blu-ray special edition collection section both the first and second Death Star's Concave Dish Composite Beam Superlaser area are called the "Laser eye." It was also originally planned to be in the middle of the Equatorial trench, as seen in the plans.
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (Appears in hologram)
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- Death Star (novel)
- Star Wars: Empire at War
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Rebellion
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi novel
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi junior novel
- Star Wars: Battlefront II
- Death Star Designer (First identified as Concave Dish Composite Beam Superlaser)
- Death Star Designer
- Death Star Technical Companion
- Star Wars: Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide