The Unknown Regions, also referred to as Unknown Space, the Unknown Territories, the Unknowns, and the Outer Reaches, was a region of the galaxy located in the galactic west beyond the Outer Rim. Largely unexplored throughout galactic history, it remained a mystery to space travelers and served as a source of tales and wonders.
To those who lived in the Unknown Regions, it was known as the Chaos. They knew the rest of the galaxy as "Lesser Space." The Chaos was a very dangerous place to navigate due to supernovae, black holes, gravity wells, and stranger phenomena. These hazards made navigation computers unreliable within the Chaos, and were the source of the name "Chaos." Due to such hazards, the peoples of the Unknown Regions employed Force-sensitive navigators, individuals endowed with the Force power of precognition, to navigate. When navigators were unavailable, long hyperspace journeys had to be jump-by-jump instead.
The Unknown Regions, known as the Chaos to those in it, was a vast patch of mysterious space located to the west of the Outer Core. Individuals and governments located in the Unknown Regions were faced with constantly-changing pathways and distorted hyperspace routes, meaning they often dealt with stunted trade and slowed travel.
By the time of the Republic Era, the peoples of the Unknown Regions used Force-sensitive navigators with the power of precognition to navigate the Chaos, instead of navigation computers. When navigators could not be hired, long-distance journeys had to be conducted as much slower jump-by-jump voyages of many short hyperspace jumps spanning a few star systems each. The various governments of the Chaos regularly hired the services of the Navigators' Guild, which dispatched Force-sensitive navigators to navigate for paying clients. Navigators of the Guild were bound by a vow of confidentiality and could not discuss anything they saw working for clients with anyone other than that client. The Chiss Ascendancy used Force-sensitive Chiss children (most often girls) as navigators. These Chiss navigators were known as the ozyly-esehembo, Cheunh for "sky-walker," and they were among the Ascendancy's most treasured assets and groups of people. The existence of ozyly-esehembo was among the Chiss Ascendancy's most closely-guarded secrets, so the Chiss often hired Navigators' Guild members to navigate, relying on the ozyly-esehembo for backup. During the Imperial Era, the warlike Grysk species of the Grysk Hegemony kidnapped Force-sensitive Chiss children in order to navigate safely through hyperspace, leading to conflict with the Chiss Ascendancy. At the same time, the Grysk came into conflict with the Galactic Empire, whose territory they sought to expand into.
At the time of the Galactic Civil War, the Unknown Regions was regarded as an unexplored region that was separated from the galaxy by a labyrinth of solar storms, rogue magnetospheres, black holes, gravity wells, and things far stranger. Strange creatures were known to inhabit the void. This maze was considered impassable and many exploration ships and probe droids were lost trying to breach it. By the time of the Battle of Jakku, Imperial computers at the Jakku Observatory had identified a safe route through the maze, but one that required multiple short hyperspace jumps, a jump-by-jump journey which took several months.
The Ilum system, the Dassal system, the Deep, Rakata Prime, and the Chiss homeworld of Csilla were located in the Unknown Regions. The watery world of Ahch-To, the site of the First Jedi Temple, was located in the Unknown Regions. The Queluhan Nebula was also located within the Region.
According to the Z7 series construction droid Zeta, there were few service centers, mechanics and factories for replacement parts in the Unknown Regions and no self respecting droid ever ventured there.
According to the legends of the Chiss Ascendancy, the Unknown Regions had not always been the collection of constantly-shifting pathways and twisted hyperspace routes that it was by the Republic Era. The legends claimed that, at the beginning of space travel, traveling between the stars of the region was as easy as regular travel, but, thousands of years prior to 19 BBY, a series of chained supernovas threw huge masses at near-lightspeed between the stars, demolishing asteroids, devastating entire planets, or even setting off more supernova explosions. The movement of these masses, combined with heavy electromagnetic flux in a number of regions, brought about the ever-changing hyperlanes that still plagued travel efforts a thousand years later.
Dating as far back as the Old Republic, the Jedi Order was known to utilize the planet Ilum as a source of kyber crystals, which were important in the construction of a Jedi's lightsaber. At a young age, Jedi younglings were sent to Ilum to retrieve these crystals, traveling into the Unknown Regions aboard a ship known as the Crucible. The Chiss Ascendancy took part in the Sith Wars.
Eventually, the Chiss Ascendancy rose to become a major power in the Unknown Regions. This empire recognized that the instability of the Unknown Regions could be an advantage because, if the Unknown Regions limited travel, the chances at an enemy faction launching an invasion were also limited. However, Chiss intelligence and recon missions were also slowed by the region's instability, blinding them to potential hidden foes who sought to bring destruction and conquest to their domain. Furthermore, the Chiss had a strongly ingrained policy against initiating hostilities, and were only allowed to use their military for defense purposes.
Era of the Republic
- "You were the Benevolent's master then?"
"Do you assume, then, that there can be only one military mind that sees the Chiss as the prime obstacle to dominion over the Chaos?"
- ―Qilori and Jixtus discuss war for control of the Unknown Regions
The Chiss surveyed events in the rest of the galaxy and became aware of a massive war being fought there. The conflict was the Clone Wars, which was fought between the Galactic Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems. By 19 BBY, concurrent to the Clone Wars, an empire in the Unknown Regions known as the Nikardun Destiny had begun to expand, allying and subjugating other peoples. The Destiny was led by a Nikardun general known as Yiv the Benevolent, though he himself had unseen masters. Yiv's efforts were also watched by another group that included an individual named Jixtus. As he later noted, many of this group predicted Yiv's efforts against the Chiss Ascendancy would fail.
Yiv sought to bring his empire against the Chiss. To cover up an an attack against Paccosh refugees in the Dioya system, which was at the edge of Chiss territory, the Nikardun launched an attack on the Chiss capital of Csilla. After he and Supreme General Ba'kif realized it had been a distraction, Thrawn began to investigate this new threat. He eventually realized that the Lioaoin Regime, Rapacc, and Urch were all sought by the Destiny. Judging by Chiss reports, he also reasoned that the Paataatus government, the force that the Chiss had assumed to be the sole culprit behind the Csilla attack, was under their control too. Controlling these factions would allow the Destiny to begin to encircle the Chiss, who would be prevented from fighting back by their non-aggression policy unless they could prove they were in imminent danger. By now, Thrawn had nearly enough proof to permit fighting back against the Nikardun Destiny. Nevertheless, the Ascendancy's policy against launching attacks without enough proof impacted his efforts.
Following the Lioaoin skirmish, Thrawn and sky-walker Che'ri traveled into the galaxy's Outer Rim Territories to search for allies, leading to them detecting a deflector shield generator on the Separatist-controlled world of Mokivj and having an encounter with Jedi General Anakin Skywalker over the planet Batuu. The Chiss had not seen shield technology as advanced as the deflector shield generator, which they termed a "Republic energy shield." Skywalker and Thrawn agreed to ally to search for Senator Padmé Amidala, whom they found on Mokivj. The planet was home to a Cortosis mine that was controlled by the Separatists. Unknown to Thrawn and Skywalker at the time, the Grysks had told Count Dooku about Cortosis's ability to block blasters and lightsabers. As such, Dooku began developing prototype B2-series super battle droids fortified with Cortosis in their chassis—as well as Cortosis-fortified clone trooper armor for potential use in executing Order 66. Thrawn helped Skywalker and Amidala defeat the local Separatist forces and parted ways with them, taking the shield generator with him. Then Anakin, in an effort to destroy the mine, accidentally caused a planetary catastrophe.
After Thrawn and Che'ri returned to the Ascendancy, Yiv's operations fell apart when he was defeated at Primea. The Vak Combine joined forces with the Chiss fleet during the battle, and the Nikardun Destiny fell apart after Thrawn captured Yiv. A short time later, however, Jixtus and his faction informed one of Yiv's former servants, the Pathfinder Qilori, that they would launch a more "subtle" campaign against the Chiss for control of the Unknown Regions. Around that time, the Ascendancy began a campaign against the remnants of Yiv's Nikardun forces.
Age of the Empire
- "These aren't civilian targets. They're Imperial installations staffed by people who have bought into the Emperor's sick vision of the future—for you, your queen, me, and everyone between here and the Unknown Regions."
- ―Berch Teller
Shortly after the formation of the Galactic Empire in "Lesser Space," the Grysk agent Jixtus concocted a plot to destroy the Chiss Ascendancy. Aided by Haplif of the Agbui, who had previously engineered a cataclysmic civil war on a planet nicknamed Sunrise, the Grysk Hegemony operative drew several Chiss Great Families to the brink of open warfare with each other. Jixtus hoped that the Great Families' allied Ruling Families would escalate the conflict into a Chiss civil war, which would weaken the Ascendancy to the point it would be easy prey for the Grysk. In about 18 BBY, Jixtus's plan nearly succeeded, but was foiled at the last moment by Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet Senior Captains Thrawn and Lakinda. While the Chiss Ascendancy did not descend into civil war as a result of Jixtus's machinations, the Grysk Hegemony remained a threat. The Grysks' continued threat eventually led the Ascendancy to send Thrawn to Lesser Space to scout out the potential of an alliance between the Ascendancy and the nascent Galactic Empire.
The existence of "evil threats" in the Unknown Regions led the Chiss Ascendancy to send the Chiss Thrawn to forge an alliance with the Galactic Empire. Thrawn made first contact with the Empire by posing as an exile, exiled for violating the Chiss's non-aggression policy. Thrawn had merely expected to perform reconnaissance and appraisal of the Empire's capabilities and report back to Csilla. However, due to his origins in the Unknown Regions, Emperor Palpatine took interest in the Chiss and made him a cadet and later officer in the Imperial Navy. Unbeknownst to Thrawn, Palpatine sought Thrawn's familiarity with the Unknown Regions for his Contingency plan. Thrawn eventually gained the trust of Emperor Palpatine and Imperial Security Bureau Colonel Wullf Yularen. Following the Batonn insurgency, Thrawn became an Imperial Grand Admiral and sent his friend Commander Eli Vanto to join the Chiss Ascendancy.
During the Imperial Era, the Emperor sent several explorers into the Unknown Regions. Many of these explorers were killed while trying to breach the maze that lay to the west of Jakku. Others went mad from isolation. Palpatine's efforts to map the Unknown Regions were aided by the Chiss Admiral Thrawn, a native of the Unknown Regions. For decades, Palpatine had been seeding the Unknown Regions with storehouses, shipyards, and laboratories. At some point, a communications station was established on the planet of GH-531. Thrawn served as Palpatine's chief adviser concerning matters within the Unknown Regions.
Ilum was occupied by the Empire, and the Empire began strip-mining the entire planet for kyber crystals, used as a vital component for the DS-1 Death Star Mobile Battle Station. The mining eventually destroyed Ilum's surface, leaving a large trench stretching around the entire planet. Ilum was heavily guarded, with a battle group and a garrison protecting it.
Following the Battle of Atollon, Palpatine sensed a disturbance in the Force coming from the edge of a region centered on Batuu and sent Thrawn and Darth Vader to investigate. As Thrawn came to understand, Vader was actually Anakin Skywalker, the very same Force-sensitive who he had fought beside during the Clone Wars. The two discovered that this disturbance had been caused by the war-like Grysks' kidnapping of Force-sensitive Chiss children, whom they were forcing to use as navigators. With the help of Lord Vader and Thrawn, the Chiss Ascendancy managed to rescue the children. Thrawn still felt that the Grysks continued to pose a threat to both the Chiss Ascendancy and the Empire, though Vader dismissed them as a distant threat that could be ignored for the time being. Like he had with Vanto, Thrawn later sent Assistant Director Brierly Ronan to join the Ascendancy, but Ronan also planned to act as a double agent if he should learn Thrawn was working against the Empire in any capacity. When Chiss Admiral Ar'alani departed with Ronan, she feared the chaos growing in the Ascendancy would lead to a war.
During the Imperial era, Palpatine had installed a secret Observatory on the planet Jakku which contained powerful ancient computers that generated a computerized three-dimensional map of the Unknown Regions, a critical part of Palpatine's Contingency plan. The Observatory's computers dispatched numerous probe droids to test the routes that the computers had generated. Shortly before the Emperor's death at the Battle of Endor, the computers finished their calculations and found a safe path into the Unknown Regions. As a result, the Emperor's flagship Eclipse was dispatched into the new frontier. Following the Battle of Endor, Palpatine's former Advisor Yupe Tashu advocated that the Empire venture into the Unknown Regions to seek out the source of the dark side of the Force.
New Republic Era
Following the Battle of Jakku and the signing of the Galactic Concordance by Grand Vizier Mas Amedda, the Galactic Empire surrendered to the New Republic. The Concordance severely limited militarization and the buildup of forces among former Imperial worlds and sectors, as well requiring the Empire to stay within strict boundaries within the Core and Inner Rim. The Concordance caused certain elements of the Empire to withdraw into the Unknown Regions as the Empire fell. Among the retreating Imperials were Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, Brendol Hux, and his son Armitage Hux, who rendezvoused with the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Eclipse as well as an Imperial remnant led by Grand Moff Randd that took refuge in the Queluhan Nebula. These remnants eventually reorganized into the First Order, a secretive military junta which sought to recapture the lost Imperial legacy and cause.
Also following the fall of the Empire, Mandalorian Spectre Sabine Wren and former Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano traveled into the Unknown Regions to search for Padawan Ezra Bridger, who, along with Grand Admiral Thrawn and the crew of the Chimaera, had gone missing years earlier during the Liberation of Lothal. Several shipyards, weapons factories, and base installations were established and maintained by the First Order in the Unknown Regions. Starkiller Base, which was located on the forested ice planet of Ilum, became one of the First Order's most significant strongholds. The First Order also maintained a space station known as Station Theta Black to mine and process dedlanite to manufacture blasters within the Unknown Regions.
In 34 ABY, the First Order used Starkiller Base's phantom energy to destroy the Hosnian system, which hosted Hosnian Prime, the capital of the New Republic. The First Order then attempted to use Starkiller Base to destroy the Resistance base on D'Qar in the Ileenium system in the Outer Rim Territories. However, the Resistance destroyed Starkiller Base, dealing a serious blow to the First Order.
Following the destruction of Starkiller Base, Rey traveled to the Unknown Regions world of Ahch-To to seek out Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. There, a greatly reluctant Skywalker agreed to train her in the Jedi ways. After Rey returned to the wider galaxy in an attempt to redeem Kylo Ren, Skywalker decided to aid the Resistance by using a Force projection to distract Ren during the Battle of Crait so that the Resistance could escape off-world aboard the Millennium Falcon with Rey and Chewbacca. The stress created by the Force projection proved too great and Skywalker became one with the Force. The Unknown Regions were used by the First Order to hide the Supremacy before the Battle of Crait.
Return of the Sith
Unbeknownst to much of the galaxy, Darth Sidious, who had returned through mysterious means following the Battle of Endor, had established a new regime on the isolated Sith world of Exegol. There, his Sith Eternal cultists had built a massive armada of Xyston-class Star Destroyers that were capable of destroying worlds. Palpatine kept his survival and cult a secret from much of the galaxy until 35 ABY.[source?] From Exegol, Sidious had controlled the First Order and guided Kylo Ren to the dark side through his puppet Supreme Leader Snoke, an artificial being created through ancient Sith rituals.
After issuing a broadcast threatening revenge, Sidious forged an alliance with Supreme Leader Kylo Ren by offering the Sith Eternal's fleet, the Final Order, in return for killing Rey, his granddaughter and the last known Jedi. With the help of the embittered First Order General Armitage Hux, the Resistance learned of Sidious' return. Sidious also gained the fealty of First Order Allegiant General Enric Pryde. That same year, the Emperor and his Final Order were defeated and destroyed by Rey, a redeemed Ben Solo, and a galactic armada led by the Resistance. After Rey and her team recovered a Sith wayfinder leading to Exegol, Resistance forces led by Commander Poe Dameron attacked Exegol. Despite being outnumbered by the Sith Eternal forces, the Resistance was aided by a massive armada mustered by Lando Calrissian.
During the Battle of Exegol, Rey and a redeemed Kylo Ren, who had reclaimed his identity as Ben Solo, fought against the Dark Lord. Realizing that the two were a Force dyad, the Sith Lord tried to drain them of life. However, Rey defeated and killed Sidious for a final time with the help of all of the past Jedi. Though the exertion of Force powers killed Rey, Ben gave his life force to resurrect her, dying and becoming one with the Force in the process. With the defeat of Sidious and the Sith Eternal, the Resistance armada withdrew from Exegol.
- The Chiss Ascendancy: a great but very secretive power that was ruled by the Aristocra, a grouping of royal families that formed the ruling class of the Ascendancy, presided over an interconnection of sovereignties.
- The Garwian Unity: a united political entity of the Garwian species located on Solitair.
- The Paataatus Hiveborn was based on Nettehi, and was active in the Unknown Regions.
- A government of the Scofti: whose leadership underwent frequent changes in leaders and governmental regimes with transitions being often violent, or motivated by the threat of violence.
- The Grysk Hegemony: an empire of the Grysk that was described as nomadic without a single fixed home.
- The First Order: an autocratic militaristic state formed from a remnant of the Galactic Empire.
- Imperial colonization: for decades, the Galactic Empire had established colonies of the Unknown Regions, including a number of storehouses, shipyards, and laboratories on distant moons and asteroids, with survey teams and droids having previously been sent to explore the Unknown Regions.
- The Lioaoin Regime: a government that was active in Lioaoin space.
- The Nikardun Destiny: an empire of the Nikardun species.
- The Tower Dimension: a government of the Urchiv-ki species based on Urch
- The Vak Combine: a government based on it capital, the Primea system.
The waterly planet of Ahch-To was the ancient birthplace of the Jedi Order, a noble religious order of protectors united in their devotion to the light side of the Force with a history, with Ahch-To being the location of the first Jedi temple.
A Sith cult, the Sith Eternal was created sometime during the Imperial Era by the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, which eventually evolved into a secret Sith regime known as the Sith Eternal on the ancient Sith world of Exegol.
Behind the scenes
The Unknown Regions were originally introduced in the Heir to the Empire Sourcebook, which was an accompaniment to the Legends novel Heir to the Empire. It was brought into canon when the planet Ilum was introduced in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "The Gathering."
Pablo Hidalgo explained in Rebels Recon that the borders of the Unknown Regions were known (and therefore should be visible on the map of the galaxy) but what were within the regions were unknown. This is in contrast with Wild Space, which was outside the known map of the galaxy (in other words, 'off the edge of the map').