Now that Star Wars: Rogue One is officially released, fans have gotten a taste of what Lucasfilm’s yearly release cycle looks like, alternating between new main episodes and spin-off films, with comic books, novels, and an animated series like Rebels filling the remaining months. With so much content, the lore of the Star Wars universe is inevitably expanding with each new title, and that’s no different with Rogue One.
One of the more surprising parts of Rogue One is the way it embraced some of the deeper elements of Star Wars lore that hadn’t previously made their way to the big screen, such as kyber crystals. Kyber crystals are one part of the Star Wars universe that has been featured a fair amount in non-movie material, like The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series, the Ahsoka novel, and the Rogue One tie-in novel, Catalyst, but Rogue One marked one of the first times the franchise has embraced one of these non-movie concepts so prominently on the big screen.
Clearly kyber crystals aren’t going anywhere. They’re a major part of Star Wars canon, and are likely going to be an even bigger element going forward, so here’s Everything You Need to Know About Kyber Crystals.
[Obviously, there are mild spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and other Star Wars material, so proceed with caution!]
15. They Power Lightsabers
The first appearance of kyber crystals in current Star Wars continuity came through The Clone Wars episode The Gathering, where a group of younglings participate in the Jedi right of passage called “the gathering,” usually held on the sacred planet of Ilum, where the young students acquired kyber crystals to build their very first lightsabers, as with many Jedi before them.
The exact specifics of how kyber crystals work in a lightsaber hasn’t been specified (partially because lightsabers don’t actually work… they’re fictional), but they appear to depend on the Force in some capacity – more on that later. More primative lightsabers may have depended even more on the Force, as early art for The Force Awakens depicts lightsabers that are essentially kyber crystals attached to a hilt, although it’s important to note this is only concept art. It’s possible a similar similar concept will show up in the franchise’s future, but it’s currently a strictly non-canon concept.
14. Separatists Were Also Interested in Kybers During the Clone Wars
Kyber crystals don’t just have a single application – they have many uses beyond simply powering a Jedi’s lightsaber. It’s been revealed that an array of giant kybers is also what actually makes the Death Star’s superlaser possible. It took some time for the Republic (and eventually the Empire) to complete the research necessary to use the kyber crystals in this destructive capacity, but during the clone wars, rumors of a similar station being built by the Separatists spurred Republic researchers and engineers to hurry their work and complete the Death Star before the Separatists.
Just how much of this was true vs motivational propaganda isn’t clear, but the Crystal Crisis, an unfinished Clone Wars arc published to StarWars.com, shows Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi intercepting a Separatists shipment of giant kyber crystals. Had the war not ended so abruptly, it’s possible there could have been a Death Star VS. Death Star situation going down.
13. The Empire Ransacked the Galaxy to Find Kyber Crystals
In Orsen Krennic’s relentless quest to bring the Death Star online, he begins tearing the galaxy apart – literally – to get the resources he needs for the Death Star’s construction, including kyber crystals. Ilum was the greatest casualty of this effort. The once pristine icy Jedi holy place is broken open in search of the crystals, rupturing the planet’s crust for molten lava to come forth, forever altering Ilum’s environment.
Most attempts to acquire kyber crystals were destructive, but not always in the same way as Ilum’s destruction. The crystal collection also wiped out generations of art and culture when Jedi temples are ransacked for ornamental crystals lining the walls and other decorative fixtures, especially in the Jedi Temple on Jedha. The Empire has already attempted to scrub all evidence of the Jedi’s existence after Order 66, but the removal of kyber crystals from the temples removed some of the last traces of the Jedi from Jedha.
12. “The Brightest Stars Have Hearts of Kyber”
One of the more interesting lines in Rogue One is when Chirrut senses the kyber crystal necklace worn by Jyn’s. After asking if she’ll give it to him, he tells her “the brightest stars have hearts of kyber.” It’s not clear if Chirrut means this literally, or if it’s some sort of metaphor – or both – but it lines up with everything else we’ve learned about Kyber crystals. They have a huge energy output and serve as a sort of bridge between the spiritual side of the Force and the physical world.
If the hearts of some stars are literally kyber, then it also calls into question if Krennic may have also been snuffing out stars to collect the crystals necessary to power the Death Star, and it’s impossible to not also call attention to the fact that Starkiller Base absorbed energy from a star before firing, possibly making it yet another kyber powered superweapon.
11. Galen Erso Thought Science could Replicate Jedi Did With the Force
In the lore of the former Expanded Universe, now Star Wars Legends, Sith lightsabers were red because they came from synthetic kyber crystals. The newer canon eschews this bit of lore when it comes to Sith lightsabers, but like many parts of Legends, the topic of synthetic crystals has popped back up in Star Wars lore recently.
The reference comes in the Rogue One prequel novel, Catalyst, where Galen Erso is a attempting to study the properties of the crystals for energy production. The only problem is, the crystals are very difficult to come by, and the Jedi don’t just give them out. Due to the constrained supply, Galen attempts to create synthetic crystals, but he’s not sure it can even be done. The kybers have several properties that make them different from other objects in nature (more on that in later points), making it nearly impossibly to replicate all their properties with fabricated crystals. It can only be assumed that fabrication is impossible or he just never figured it out, since the Empire is going to such great lengths to acquire kybers later on.
10. Kyber Crystals Might Be Sentient
The Force works in mysterious ways. This is especially true in the way it interacts with the physical world. This bridge occurs largely through midi-chlorians, which communicate the will of the Force to Force users, but a very similar relationship with kyber crystals is described in the Ahsoka novel. Kyber crystals have a preference in owner, calling out to Force users in a unique song.
Even Galen Erso, who isn’t a Force user, experiences an effect from his years of work in close proximity to a number of kyber crystals. He even noted that they seemed to change their structure as he examined them, as if eluding his attempts to gain an understanding of how they work. Eventually, his sleep was even effected and he started having weird dreams as if the kybers were turning the tables and examining him. The kybers clearly hold a very important place in the galaxy, possibly even serving as small conduits for the Force itself.
9. Kybers Have Massive (Destructive) Energy Potential
Galen Erso first started his research on kyber crystals because he believed they could be harnessed to produce clean and renewable energy for developing worlds. It was the same premise that convinced him to start working for Krennic in the early days of the Empire, although it turned out his research was actually being used for the Death Star, which, to be fair, had a significant need for renewable energy, both for the station’s power, but also to make the superlaser operational.
It’s been known for a while that the Death Star’s superlaser depends on an array of kyber crystals to focus the planet destroying beam, but Rogue One suggests that the station itself might also be powered by kybers, a suggestion that’s supported by the Empire’s drive to collect kybers of all sizes, even once the station is fully operational. Crystals are still being shipped off of Jedha, even before the Death Star attacks, showing the Emire’s use for them isn’t singular.
8. They’re basically indestructible
As something so precious, one would expect the kyber crystals to be equally fragile, but they’re actually close to indestructible. The crystals can survive high levels of trauma and even absorb and redirect massive levels of energy, making them ideal for use in not only the Jedi lightsabers, but also the Death Star’s superlaser.
Even when the crystals are overloaded, the resulting explosion tends to spare the crystal itself while destroying everything around it. This is seen in small cases, such as in Ahsoka when Ahsoka destroys the Sixth Brother’s lightsaber and extracts the kyber crystals, but also on a much larger scale, like in Catalyst, when Imperial Project Celestial Power researchers on Malpaz – working separate from Galen Erso – make a grave error with kyber crystal diffraction, resulting in an uncontainable energy output, destroying not only the research facility, but the entire capital city of Malpaz. Despite this catastrophe, the crystal itself was unharmed.
7. The Jedi Believed Kybers Shouldn’t Be Fully Understood
The Jedi Order long sought to gain knowledge about the universe. Between the Jedi Archives and the holocrons (which also may have depended on kyber crystals to function), the Jedi Temple on coruscant was the epicenter of much of the galaxy’s deepest knowledge. While the Jedi library was extremely thorough, there was one notably missing section that should have been near and dear to the Jedi: kyber crystals. Lyra Erso thought this omission was a sign that the Jedi believed kybers were sacred and shouldn’t be completely understood by anyone.
That doesn’t mean the Jedi didn’t know anything about the crystals that powered their lightsabers and adorned their temples. They had a special relationship and understanding of kyber crystals, but this knowledge wasn’t recorded like the rest of the collective Jedi knowledge. Instead, the Jedi passed what they knew of the kybers through oral tradition, meaning almost everything known about the crystals went to the grave with the Jedi after Order 66, leaving Galen Erso and other researchers to start from scratch.
6. Jyn Wears One Around Her Neck
Lyra Erso had a deep respect for the Jedi and saw the kyber crystals as sacred artifacts of their order. Possibly even Force sensitive herself, Lyra was never trained as a Jedi, but she was a woman of faith and held onto her trust in the will of the Force. She tolerated Galen’s research into the crystals, but regularly warned him to respect the kybers and not use knowledge of them to enable the Empire to do anything nefarious.
This faith stuck with her long after her family went into hiding, and her last words to Jyn were to tell her to trust in the Force, giving her a kyber crystal to wear around her neck. This necklace serves as a representation of both of her parents: Galen’s great scientific mind and life’s dedication to the study of kybers, as well as Lyra’s faith in the will of the Force.
5. Every Kyber Crystal is Unique
No two kyber crystals are alike. Every crystal bears its own unique structure of lattices that Galen compares to a snowflake or a human iris. This trait is common in nature, as most diamonds are unique, trees all have different rings in the trunk, and all sorts of other objects occur in nature, so a kyber crystal is just like many other minerals in that capacity, but it diverges from other gemstones in other ways. One such divergence is in the abnormal mix of transparent and opaque in the kyber’s appearance, a phenomenon the Jedi referred to as “the water of the kyber.”
While the crystals exhibeted many typical natural attributes, other aspects were more of a mystery, such as lightsabers, which, by Galen’s estimation, had no scientific right to function as they do, suggesting lightsaber construction is augmented by the Force itself, willing the kybers to behave in a special way to allow the Jedi weapons to function.
4. Kyber Crystals Need to Be Unlocked or “Awoken” With the Force
One Jedi commentator Galen was able to research said the kyber was a “somnolent stone that needed to be woken up to perform its purpose,” but he also cautioned that the crystal was “easily insulted” noting that a Jedi should take care. Forcing one’s will onto a kyber to awaken it without its consent would cause the crystal to bleed, resulting in a red lightsaber blade, which is why the Sith have uniformly crimson lightsabers. Meanwhile, the kybers would express any number of different colors for some Jedi. The most common blades were blue and green, but other colors would occasionally show up, seemingly on the whim of the kyber.
The bond between Force wielders and their crystals was essential. The crystals were even known to warm to the touch, even reacting to other life such as plants, although no instruments ever recorded any change in temperature when Galen attempted to monitor the crystals’ reactions to life.
3. Output Can Be Increased By Cutting and Faceting Kyber Crystals
While the kyber crystals were incredibly durable in many ways, the Jedi were still able to cut and fashion them into multi faceted surfaces to alter light refraction to maximize their energy output. They also carved and shaped them into ornamental pieces for decoration of many different Jedi temples and other sacred places.
In his attempt to harness the energy of the kyber, Galen Erso determines that the massive crystals he’s researching need to be faceted in this fashion to increase their yield. He thinks this breakthrough is instrumental in producing inexpensive power, which it is, but it’s also a major step forward in the Empire’s efforts to complete their planet destroying superlaser. The final change Erso makes to reach the crystal’s peak output is to force the realignment of the lattices so that the “day” lattice is moved in place of the “night” lattice – a configuration the Jedi associated with the dark side.
2. Religious Groups Visit Kyber Sites on Pilgrimages
The Jedi had many rituals, such as The Gathering, that surrounded the collection of kyber crystals, but the locations where kybers could be found were also considered sacred, and the Jedi and even non-Jedi devotees of the Force honored these sites with pilgrimages.
Long after the fall of the Jedi, several organizations existed to continue to protect the kyber crystals and honor the legacy of the Jedi. Two of these groups were the Guardians of the Whills and the Church of the Force. The former desired to protect the kyber crystals and other holy sites such as the Jedha Jedi temple, while the newly formed Church of the Force sought to safeguard the Jedi artifacts, holy sites, and artifacts during the reign of the Empire. After the battle of Endor, Luke Skywalker’s efforts to rebuild the Jedi were greatly aided by the efforts of Lor San Tekka and other members of the Church of the Force to preserve artifacts and pilgrimage sites.
1. Kylo Ren’s Crossguard Saber Uses a Cracked Kyber Crystal
Kylo Ren’s crossguard lightsaber caused quite a stir after his first appearance at the end of the very first trailer for The Force Awakens. Many fans were divided. Some thought it was an exciting new design, while others found it unrealistic and impractical. The release of the film seems to have silenced many naysayers upon seeing how the blade is used, but even more has been revealed about the son of Solo’s crackling lightsaber since the release of Episode VII.
In addition to the crossguard, Ren’s lightsaber diverges from most others we’ve seen in another key way: its unstable crackling. Most lightsabers we’ve seen to this point have smooth blades that emit a low hum, but Ren’s saber has a crackling blade that buzzes with a noise sound editor Matthew Wood says was inspired by a chainsaw.
These unique characteristics have been revealed to come from the Ren’s kyber crystal being cracked. Whether he found it that way, or if the cracking is at all related to him making the crystal bleed from forcing it to awaken while building his saber has yet to be seen, but the saber seems to have a story that closely aligns with his split from the Jedi order, meaning some answers are probably still on their way.
What do you think is the most interesting thing about kyber crystals? Did we miss anything on our list? Let us hear about it!