One of the greatest fictional weapons to ever exist is the lightsaber, the weapon of choice of a Jedi in Star Wars. The lightsaber is iconic because it can cut through almost anything using a weapon that emits a hotter plasma blade than anyone could ever imagine. This means that the lightsaber’s blade has a temperature so intense that it can cut through limbs like a knife on paper. So, how hot is a lightsaber?
There is no canon explanation of how hot a lightsaber is, but it has been estimated that it can produce around 36,500 degrees Fahrenheit of heat. That’s because a lightsaber can cut through entire blast doors and cleanly cleave through an entire rock in a second.
The thing about the lightsaber is that it is so hot that it seems like it is impossible to produce that much heat from such a small contraption. But that is part of what makes Star Wars so unique and special. Of course, we’ve all wished for a lightsaber at one point during our younger years. So, with that said, let’s look at just how hot a lightsaber is and what it feels like to get hit by one.
A lightsaber is hot enough to cut through steel like butter
The thing we know about Star Wars is that it would just be like any other space opera without the lightsaber. That’s because the lightsaber was one of the things that made Star Wars special, as it was the weapon of choice of a Jedi. And the Jedi are trained warriors, some of the few people skilled enough to wield such a dangerous weapon that is powerful enough to cut through almost anything in the galaxy.
But just how hot is a lightsaber? Well, throughout the storyline of Star Wars, we’ve seen just what a lightsaber can do. We’ve seen how this weapon could easily cut a person’s limbs off. But the most impressive part is that a lightsaber is powerful enough to cut through steel objects like a hot knife through butter. While the swords we see in real life are sharp enough to cut through limbs, they aren’t nearly sharp enough cleanly cut through steel.
Nevertheless, a lightsaber is capable of cutting through steel. As the weapon’s name suggests, a lightsaber produces a blade of plasma that burns incredibly hot and can cleave through almost any object, no matter how hard it is. And the energy source is the Kyber crystal found in the lightsaber.
While Kyber crystals aren’t real, we know that we can produce heat in many different ways in the real world. We also know that anything that produces enough heat should be able to cut through steel. For example, plasma cutters can produce enough heat to cut through steel. But the lightsaber can cleave through steel like a hot knife through butter and even cut through entire blast doors, as shown during the events of ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.’
For starters, steel has a melting point of 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit, and something as strong as a blast door should have a higher melting point because blast doors are supposed to withstand entire blasts. That means the Star Wars blast door must have a melting point of at least 3,000 degrees F. But even something that can burn 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit cannot cut through steel or titanium in a mere second. For example, real-life plasma cutters take time to cut through steel.
In that regard, a lightsaber needs to produce enough heat to easily cut through something as powerful as titanium without even taking a second. And we’ve seen the Jedi effortlessly cutting through metals and other hard objects with a single swift motion that doesn’t even take a second.
Brandon Weigel, who works as an astrophysics and engineering enthusiast, could estimate the heat produced by a lightsaber by watching what Rey did in ‘Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.’ In that movie, Rey used one swift motion to cut through an entire rock without even breaking a sweat. And Rey was yet to receive proper training as a Jedi.
According to Weigel’s estimations, a lightsaber must have a temperature of around 36,559.13 degrees Fahrenheit to easily cut through an entire rock without effort. And that means that a lightsaber should be unimaginably hot.
The amazing and impossible part is that the lightsaber should be so hot that simply igniting it is already enough to kill anyone nearby. To put things into perspective, a person can already feel the heat of lava from a good distance even though lava “only” produces around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit as opposed to the 36,500 degrees coming from a lightsaber. That means some sort of pseudoscience must be involved in Star Wars to ensure the lightsaber’s heat is contained within the blade.
Do lightsabers cut or burn?
While we often talk about the lightsaber as a sword that cuts, that really isn’t the case. We only use the word “cut” because that is what a sword should do. But the truth is that a lightsaber actually does something else.
When something cuts by a sword, it basically goes through the object by moving whatever is in its path out of its way. Nothing within the blade’s path gets destroyed because it merely pushes all objects out of its way. On the other hand, a lightsaber does things differently.
Kyle Hill explained what happens when you get hit by a lightsaber in this video:
So, instead of pushing things out, a lightsaber “vaporizes” everything in front of it. In a way, it burns things but takes matters to the extreme, as a lightsaber doesn’t set things on fire but simply transforms them into vapor. That is simply how hot a lightsaber is.
Can you feel the heat of a lightsaber?
The amazing and impossible part is that the lightsaber should be so hot that simply igniting it is already enough to kill anyone nearby. To put things into perspective, a person can already feel the heat of lava from a good distance even though lava “only” produces around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit as opposed to the 36,500 degrees coming from a lightsaber.
But the world of Star Wars wants us to believe that those igniting a lightsaber don’t even feel the heat coming through the plasma blade. We’ve seen the Jedi and the Sith having their faces inches away from a lightsaber but aren’t even burned by the sheer heat that should be coming from the blade.
That means some sort of pseudoscience must be involved in Star Wars to ensure the lightsaber’s heat is contained within the blade. And that is difficult to imagine in the real world because we know that anything that produces heat actually allows the heat to dissipate into the surrounding area, which should be able to feel the heat.
What can’t a lightsaber cut through?
As strong as a lightsaber is in the Star Wars world, it isn’t an absolute weapon. That’s because we’ve seen a few things that are actually resistant or even immune to the power of a lightsaber. As such, there are some things that not even a lightsaber can’t cut.
The first thing that comes to mind is another lightsaber. Plasma isn’t solid, which means that the laws of physics suggest that a lightsaber should pass through another lightsaber whenever they make contact. But in Star Wars, a magnetic effect between lightsabers makes it impossible for lightsaber blades to cut through one another.
Another thing that is resistant to the cutting power of a lightsaber is Beskar steel, which has a boiling point several times higher than regular Durasteel in Star Wars. In fact, the only reason the Mandalorians could fight on par against the Jedi was that they monopolized Beskar, which allowed them to produce weapons and armor that not even lightsabers could cut.
Star Wars monsters are also immune to the power of a lightsaber. The first monster that comes to mind is the Zillo Beast, one of the strongest monsters in the history of Star Wars. This creature was so powerful that none of the weapons of the Jedi or the Republic could hurt it, as only a certain type of gas was strong enough to kill it.
But bigger objects that are thick enough are also able to resist lightsabers. While lightsabers can cut through the steel used to make the ships in the world of Star Wars, a Jedi knows that it would take time for a lightsaber to completely cut through the object. That is why we rarely see Jedi and Sith using their lightsabers to attack entire tanks and ships in Star Wars.
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