- "Only a complete idiot would go into a place like that."
- ―Lando Calrissian
The Maw Cluster, or simply The Maw as it was sometimes called, was an unstable and mostly unnavigable cluster of black holes located near the planet Kessel. The only reason the Maw was visible was due to the ionizing gases being drawn into it.
The stability of the cluster itself was something of a mystery, with some believing that an advanced civilization might have constructed it, rather than it merging together like a normal cluster would. In 44 ABY, the Jedi Order learned from the Thuruht hive that the Maw was created by Thuruht and other Killik hives to serve as a prison for the dark side entity Abeloth. Under the direction of the Son and Daughter (who had joined the hivemind), the Killiks created Centerpoint Station and Sinkhole Station. Centerpoint was used by The Ones to create the Maw itself, while Sinkhole Station was built to maintain the prison from within.
The Maw was a cluster of black holes located in the Kessel sector of the Outer Rim Territories, at the center of the Maw Nebulae. The ionizing gases being drawn into it made the cluster visible and made it one of the Wonders of the Galaxy.
Because of the intense gravity of the black holes, the entire Kessel system was slowly drawn into the Maw. The stability of the cluster itself was something of a mystery, with some believing that an advanced civilization might have constructed it, rather than it merging together like a normal cluster would.
Most of the area of the Maw was saturated in radiation, plasma, and strong gravitational forces. Any ship's captains that neared the edge of the Maw would notice pieces of their ships being pulled apart, and some smugglers and criminals used it as a shortcut past the Kessel Run.
The Maw was the site of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin's Maw Installation, where the Death Star prototype and most of the first Death Star was built, although it was completed at Despayre. Tarkin knew that the Maw's near-inaccessibility and remoteness made it easy for him to hide the project. The installation was actually located within a safe zone inside the cluster discovered just prior to the start of the project.
A planetoid near the Maw was also the site of an Imperial detention base which was attacked by the Rebel Alliance flight group Rogue Squadron after the Battle of Hoth in the year 3 ABY. During the battle, numerous prisoners escaped and the prison was destroyed.
The Maw was also the location of the creation and destruction of the Sun Crusher; it was constructed at the Maw Installation and destroyed when it was sent into one of the black holes within the Maw. Other superweapons designed and built there include the World Devastators, the Tarkin, the Ionic Ring Ship, and the Galaxy Gun.
Post-Galactic Civil War
During the Yuuzhan Vong War, Lando Calrissian sponsored the construction of a space station called Shelter, which was built with the remains of Maw Installation as a refuge for fugitive Jedi Knights. Shelter was located at the very heart of the Maw and at one point housed the wartime generation of Jedi apprentices and surviving Jedi Praxeum students.
In 43 ABY, Luke Skywalker and his son Ben visited the Maw during their journey to discover the reasons for Jacen Solo's fall to the dark side. Within The Maw, they discovered Sinkhole Station and the Mind Walkers.
During the New Jedi Order's conflict with the entity Abeloth, in 44 ABY, the Jedi Order learned from the Thuruht hive that the Maw was created by Thuruht and other Killik hives to serve as a prison for Abeloth.
Behind the scenes
On January 27, 2021, the Maw was referenced in an astrophysics publication considering the potential formation of 'dark star clusters' containing up to thousands of black holes, most a few tens of times the mass of the sun. The authors commented that clusters like the Maw 'may be short-lived,' lending credence to the notion that the Maw would be physically unstable. This paper is one of the first publications in a leading astrophysics journal to cite a Star Wars novel.
Notes and references
- The Jedi Academy Trilogy
- The Essential Atlas
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
- The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
- Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 295 ("Maw Cluster")
- Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse
- The New Essential Chronology places the Battle of Hoth in 3 ABY.