How Much Would a DEATH STAR Cost? (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

How Much Would a DEATH STAR Cost? (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

Welcome to Imperial Engineering 101, class.
Ugh. Today we will be familiarizing you with the grand scope of our Empire by outlining
the major cost and energy specifications of our most infamous weapon — the Death Star.
As long as some kid with a bowl cut doesn’t blow it up again. I’ve been brought here from Earth to talk
to you about the Death Star as a part of our Engineer Exchange Program. Now first, the
Death Star is huge, like confusable for a moon huge. With a diameter of 160 kilometers across,
if the Death Star was placed at an orbit about where the Earth’s International Space Station
is, or 400 kilometers up from the Earth’s surface, it would appear in the night sky
45 times larger than the Earth’s moon! But I know what you’re here for, you want
to learn about fire power of trap-worthy magnitude. Remember that planet of Rebel scum? Alderaan
was it called? Well, it’s Alde-destroyed now! Hah! Well, how much energy does a Death
Star output to cause that kind of destruction? Very basically, we can use an equation that
calculates how much energy it would take to pull all the pieces of a planet apart, which
depends on the planet’s mass and radius. It’s called the gravitational binding energy. Using the mass and radius of Earth as a comparison,
the energy required to destroy Alderaan would be… a lot. That’s about as much energy
as the star around Earth puts out over the course of an entire week. And because a Death Star’s death beam fires
for maybe a second or so, the beam requires about the same amount of watts of power to
run. The most powerful laser on Earth doesn’t
even come close. On Earth, the most powerful laser is found
at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where they fire a 42 joule laser over 40 femtoseconds
to give it a power rating of one times ten to the fifteenth watts or one petawatt. The Death Star laser is a hundred thousand
million million times more powerful than this. You might be asking yourself, where do we
get all this energy? Well, from hypermatter, of course! Converting matter to raw energy, using Einstein’s
famous E equals M C squared equation, it would take about a Mt. Everest’s-worth of matter
just to power one Alderaan-destroying blast. All this power doesn’t come cheap. Depending on what economic analyses you read,
the cost to mine all the materials for a Death Star, to ship them up into space, to put them
together, and to pressurize the whole darn structure, could be anywhere from hundreds
of quadrillions of dollars to tens of septillions of dollars. That’s even more than Han Solo can imagine. Well, that’s it for today’s class. Make
sure to do your required reading on how lightsabers work and remember no matter what units you
use, a parsec is a unit of distance, and not time. Why? Because Science. Want more science? Check out my last video
on how the Mushroom War in Adventure Time works. Make sure to click to subscribe to
Nerdist for more videos. And if you have any comments or questions, hit me up in the comments
section below. Thanks!


  1. Uriel Karim Gómez Hernández says:

    If space and time are the same, why a parsec cannot measure both?

  2. George Goldie says:

    Does he write everything backwards…?

  3. Cyber Swiper says:

    Maths the fucking maths!!

  4. AmPalp says:

    1 petawatt. More like , young petawatt! Instead of, you know, young Padawan. Kill me.

  5. luca s says:

    the death star is powered by a giant kybercrystal just like a light saber except the one in the lightsaber is smaller

  6. johngordonp says:

    1:00 – The word you're looking for is "Alder-gone".

    You're welcome.

  7. Aliyu Ahmed says:

    this dude looks like a power ranger

  8. Helios Lung says:

    wolverine healing?

  9. Sike_ologist says:

    Every time I saw a toy or Lego Imperial Star Destroyer, I would look at my dad and say "Look, It's Spaceball One!"

  10. Allan A. Chornak says:

    Someone legit asked President Obama the question of how much it would cost to build the damn thing, let alone fire it, and he actually looked into it! If I'm not mistaken, the amount of money that he guestimated it would be worth was close to several hundred quadrillion dollars.

  11. Kane Rises says:

    But another thing about the Death Star's laser, is that it's also powered by giant Kyber crystals. Something most likely doesn't exist.

  12. Vinny 28 says:

    Aldaron more like aldadone

  13. Dylan C says:

    I think in the Star Wars universe, they don't use time to measure distance traveled but instead distance traveled to measure distance traveled (12 parsecs) because their "warp speed" or "hyper speed" or "light speed" is actually bending the time-space around the ship, and depending on how much the time-space is warped around the ship would determine how far the ship traveled relative to its location. A major bending or fold in the time-space would essentially make the distance shorter, while a slight bend/fold in the time-space would result in longer distance, and thus longer time. So when Han says that he did it in 12 parsecs, and believe he is bragging about how powerful his ship is to bend/warp the time-space, resulting in shorter distance and thus less time.

    This is just my theory based on what I have read, watched, and saw on the time-space continuim and Star Wars logic. That, or Han just doesn't understand the techno "mumbo-jumbo".

  14. Paul Pomykala says:

    Why would you mine a planet and ship the material into space, instead of mining an asteroid belt?

    And why didn't you answer the question that you labeled the video with?

  15. NemisXV says:

    So should have called it a "debt" star?

  16. lionnel murimi says:

    I find it disturbing that star wars ignored the roche limit

  17. Phil Verhey says:

    you fucked up and you've made the wrong calculation…

    when you break apart atoms, you get a crap ton of energy … the amount of energy put into an atomic bomb is far less than it's output because of the stored energy in the bomb … if you detonated the planet, instead of blowing it up .. you need far less energy .. and it would explode far more completely in a chain reaction, rather than large chunks that would just destroy the death star via collision ….

    hence "you've made the wrong calculation…"

  18. Skull Bulldozer says:

    well time to start saving my money

  19. The Brennan says:

    Hey, something I learned while reading Extended universe books: When somebody does the Kessel Run, it is measured in parsecs because it is a run between a bunch of drifting space barges in neutral space. The smuggler's job is to make it between each of the and pick up cargo before they drift into imperial space. The barges are staggered so as they drift, they get further apart. Thus 12 parsecs was the exceptionally short (compared to most over smugglers') distance that Han traveled, a testament to both the Falcon's speed and his piloting abilities. Why? Because Science!

  20. JJ CP says:

    Can someone explain +Nerdist the parsecs thing of the Kessel run before i go full geek mode?

  21. hector rivera says:

    matpat rip off

  22. Qwerty says:

    But the empire built it for free

  23. Warren Mason says:

    Well you need to think on a grand scale. The empire had access to hundreds of world's for materials and currency. Not just one nation either but an entire planets economy.

  24. Stefan Kätzlmeier says:

    When you think about it, the Death Star is putting out several orders of magnitudes of power more.
    Because the Formula he used actually just calculates what energy is needed to accelerate the whole planet to its Escape Velocity, let's say ~ 30 Km/s .

    BUT Alderaan explodes way, way, WAAY faster, like its whole Diameter in less than a second, which is 10.000 – 12.000 Km, so at least 10.000 Km/s² of acceleration.

    You see where this is going.
    Sources: Wookiepedia (Numbers), A new Hope, Science

  25. Kiltion says:

    you know that grand moff kilrin constructed it a round a neutron star core according to the star wars construct book made by the very people who made star wars

  26. Josh Greening says:

    I don't believe you and I won't ever either. Because you messed up by saying, "Han may be older than Obi, maybe even Anakin" like Anakin is older than his master and trainer Obi. smh

  27. Bradley Sad Falcons Fan And Alabama Fan says:

    its 198 quintillion$ look at game theorys vid

  28. Halinspark says:

    Would you really need that much energy to destroy a planet? surely after a certain point, itll get sploded one way or another.

  29. gamer guy says:

    Guys I really need to say a few thing first Dnews did a video on this and it really wouldn't take all this energy or Mount Everest stuff you need a laser that combines 0.00002% of the planets mass in antimatter and the planet goes bye bye uses baby voice to say all of this

  30. Entity says:

    But you don't even half to lift that matter into space you could just use a preexisting asteroid to power the beam instead

  31. ks2033tv says:

    It;s been awhile so this could be wrong, but I recall reading some where that the Deathstars doesn't really explode a planet. It destabilizes the core of the planet and the planet blows itself up. Now granted to reach the core with the super laser still would require a lot of energy. Still some crazy math involved for sure. But at least its more believable then starkiller base which just makes no sense what so ever.

  32. killgora1 says:

    I don't think it would cost that much because the Deathstars laser was powered by a giant Kyber Crystal. The same crystals used in lightsabers. All it would take is the time, and ability to find such a giant crystal and retrieve it, which could be expensive in itself, though not as expensive as what you just said.

  33. TOXIC GAMES says:

    It would cost a small loan of a trillion dollars

  34. Patlu says:

    1:00 bad joke… should have said all is gone

  35. Anselmo Chavez says:

    actually the death star interior is filled with kibra crystals that are the same thing that allows light sabers to work

  36. Sunil Permaul says:

    I thought it would be free, because slavery.

  37. Pickletine el Taimados says:

    Did anyone think maybe they convert the Death Star's trash into some of the superlaser energy? I don't know how well this sits with Star Wars canon but it certainly makes sense from an efficiency perspective… maybe they installed something like this on the 2nd Death Star?

  38. Pokeboy ska says:


  39. Phil V says:

    You're momma's so fat, if you put a laser pointer in her mouth, she could blow up Alderaan.

  40. gundam fan says:

    ahh you said 'pull'ed apart! thought in science things get pushed? lol

  41. Turner Duraski says:

    @Nerdist what happens to blaster bolts that miss in space battles?

  42. Pillagius says:

    Hm… And what if Death Star runs on anti-mater?

  43. Stewart Fletcher says:

    Look how short that hair is… Jeez

  44. jelmer705 says:

    what if u would use a canon instead of a lazer? would this set a different perspective on the amount of money?

  45. Yonkage says:

    So, that laser here on Earth outputs a power of about one pedowatt.

    Does that mean it goes around touching all the little watts and making jokes about how they can't fight back because they have few ohms?

  46. Adam Call says:

    Haha I enjoy watching these even though I understand none of the math

  47. unicron004 says:

    George Lucas isn't so great in making science fiction more science than fiction. star wars would be something of a sci fantasy. however instead of converting matter, what about a Kugelblitz engine? wouldn't an engine using hawking radiation provide the means for blasting a planet to pieces?

  48. Shadow Heart says:

    Why wouldn't they just use asteroids? Would be cheaper than mining and transporting matter from planets. Strap a rocket or two for propulsion or tow it with a spaceship and use some explosives to crack it into pieces to stick in whatever they use to convert matter into energy. Or just crack it up, load it onto a shuttle and tranport it. Really, using asteroids would be cheaper.

  49. Velociraptors of Skyrim says:

    Wait, if the Empire got you, who did we get?

  50. Kiwi Boi says:

    So how much does the death star actually cost?

  51. Alex Mason says:

    If the extended universe is anything to go by, the parsec thing makes sense. The Kessel Run is dangerously close to the Maw, being a cluster of black holes. Thus, who ever makes their run closer to the Maw will make the run in a shorter distance, but run the risk of being ripped apart molecule by molecule.

  52. Austin Droscher says:

    But the blast that destroyed Alderaan was almost the max amount of energy the Death star could produce. In Rouge One when they fire the Death Star it only delivers the force equall to that of several atomic bombs which is what it was designed to do which would cost significantly less than always firing a planet destroying beam.

  53. Repins Watson says:

    wait there is an Einstein in your galaxy too?

  54. I’m Uncreative says:

    Don't have to worry about construction fees it was mostly Wookiee slave labor

  55. MC Miau says:

    you lok liek tohr

  56. Vadim Painshakov says:

    What about the alien building help? And their money, and workers?

  57. Jacob Simon says:

    A lot, to answer the tidle.

  58. Sephirothstrife 2600 says:

    alderaan? more like alder-gone

  59. brandon parr says:

    Who's faster. The Millennium Falcon, or the flash?
    I think the Falcon, because it don't need gravity to run on. Just saying.

  60. Dakota Alberts says:

    Is chappie the same as Number 5 in short circuit?


    Yeah…. You have endless ressources and droid workers…. No problem. I built ya one and the Jawa will pay for it.

  62. Fernando Augusto Zamprogna says:

    so I CAN buy a death star in my adventure capitalist game…

  63. Two Punch Man says:

    Alder-Gone would have been better than alder-destroyed Kyle. I'm here just to say that.

  64. Rade Ue Masq says:

    Maybe you could do the mechanics behind a mobile suit (MS) from most gundam series.

    Mainly that the mechanics wouldn't work as far as the animation shows. In stead MS would likely have similar mechanics of tanks. Such as forward, backward, turn right/left, turn of the waist & fire controls. They wouldn't be able to preform all these fancy moves & such we see is the series.

  65. Jack McConnell says:

    Luke didn’t have a bowl cut!! Did he?

  66. Kassiani Austin says:

    Can you do an episode about toba and yellowstone(the super volcanos)?

  67. 360.landon says:

    1:01 I would of said alderGONE

  68. Stormspark says:

    Did they ever even state what "hypermatter" was and how it worked?

  69. Andrew Reid says:

    a possible powerful source for the Death Star could use zero point technology which technically is in 0.1 it's actually doing is using a dimensional Vortex to siphon energy cosmic energy off of a alternate reality basically depleting the power of a universe and challenging channeling it through the power Matrix this power Matrix than takes this Shirley harness cosmic energy and focus is it directly into the beam to create the theoretical power levels in in which the Death Star would require to even take out Alderon or lol
    Alder- gone !

  70. Chris MacQuiddy says:

    Han Solo could have been talking about distance though. The Kessel Run was running near a cluster of black holes to get to/from Kessel. Ships normally did not fly closer to avoid getting trapped in the event horizon of this area. Han flew much closer than ships normally would which would shorten the distance traveled since it was closer to a straight line instead of a curve line.

  71. Tammy Kaminski says:

    Mat pat did this

  72. Noble reflex says:

    I guess you could say it's AlderGONE…. I'll show myself out

  73. Nicholas Jones says:

    1st…all da gone cuz yeah sounds better, and 2nd. Correct me if I'm wrong but Rogue one proved they used the force crystals to generate the power requirements to shoot that laser so the question is how much out put do those lasers grant…but it is interesting to note that by the time of Luke the crystals were practically extinct from the galaxy which would make sense with your theory.

  74. NotUsingMyName says:

    Alde-destroyed? Kyle, shame on you… too soon man, too soon.

  75. Joosejpr says:

    I dunno, he can imagine quite a lo… oh.

  76. Geode says:

    u shoulda used this joke instead:
    "alderan, more like alder-gone!"

  77. Toasty667 says:


  78. Charles Southwick says:

    The final cost on the death star couldnt have been more than 20% of the galactic GDP. But… Thats just this nerds opinion.

  79. Cliff Threadgold says:

    This makes me think of another Star Wars question…. How would Coruscant still have a breathable atmosphere with no visible ecosystem?

  80. A Tr says:

    Shoulda said Aldergone.

  81. Jynxed66six says:


  82. Demiwitch of the Sea says:

    Matpat did a video about the cost and economic consequences of destroying the Death Star.

  83. Letsplay1511 says:

    You right Parsec is a unit for distance. They never said anything else, the Kessel Run is not about the shortest Time but the shortest distance.

  84. Clim hazzard says:

    This would probably be pocket change for a real interstellar Empire, though most Sci Fi doesn't really depict Interstellar civilizations with as much resources as they should probably have at their disposal.

  85. im a fucking sandwich as everbody else says:

    youre my favourite imperial teacher.

  86. MR Moon Gaming says:

    padawatts, not padawan?

  87. Chris Zacho says:

    OK. Am I the first here to notice that Kyle's initial conversion is backwards? The Death Star is described as being 200 miles in diameter. Since there are 1.613 (approx.) kilometers in a mile. 200 x 1.613 = 322.6 kilometers in diameter

    160 kilometers would be only HALF the Death Star's actual diameter.

  88. Murican' Mapper says:

    160km is death star II m8 death star I is 120km

  89. Lucifer 69 says:

    The Emperor must have had some good credit… at least until a rebellious teenager blew the dam thing up.

  90. Doug Powell says:

    can you build a death star?

  91. Valters Plūme says:

    How efficient hypermatter really is?

  92. PokeMageTech says:

    1:04 – might I suggest “AlderGone”?

  93. Ryth McAle says:

    Deaths (so far) [zero this episode]
    1 arrow to neck
    1 Head shot
    1 zombification
    1 nuclear explosion
    1 deatomified

    Dismemberment (so far) [zero this episode]

    1 hand

    Diseases (so far) [zero this episode]
    1 blood poison
    1 lesions

  94. XERØ says:

    No, they just use zero point.

  95. VanSlinger Long Shot Channel says:

    … this the same guy from Shawshank Redemption, the killer that got shot by the possessed Percy?

  96. Guðmundur Ingi Guðmundsson says:

    I could whip you up a gatling death star irl no problem dude, using one cubic centimeter not a mount Everest for each… bullet?

  97. Numberjack Fiutro says:

    I'd love to see a death star style spacestead built! For starters, at least a trillion people could live work and vacation inside it. Despite it being much smaller than Earth, a death star sized space station would come with billions of square kilometers of useable floor space! Even if the core was a hollow park, that's more than the total land area of Earth!
    If this station had engines and a planet destroying disaster was to hit Earth, everyone on Earth would be able to be saved by going into the death star style spacestead!
    The laws of physics don't forbid the construction of a spherical space station spacestead 300km – 900km in diameter, thus the only things preventing such a structure from being built are the lack of will power, the lack of strong enough materials and the $859,000,000,000,000,000 + price tag.

  98. Kyle Deaton says:

    “Gravitational Binding Energy”
    The Force.

  99. Wanderingsage7 says:

    About the same as a fleet of improved star destroyers and Tie Fighters. …which would probably be more efficient than two moon-sized battle stations.

  100. Astroblaze the Reality Traverser says:

    1:03 I think you mean
    "Alderaan? more like Alder-gone!"

    edit: when you scroll down and realize that joke has already been made a half-dozen times :/

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