# How long does it take to traverse the UFP?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by cgervasi, Jan 29, 2013.

1. ### PavonisCommodoreCommodore

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Apr 26, 2001
Still, references to "north" or "east", etc, with regard to directions in the galaxy don't make sense to me. Shouldn't directions be referred to as "spinward" or "antispinward", and towards or away from the galactic core? Then there's out-of-the-plane of the galaxy for the third dimension.

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If starships use a galactic navigation system, "north" could always be towards the galactic core no matter where you are in the Galaxy.

3. ### throwbackCaptainCaptain

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May 27, 2011
My question was based on what was stated in the franchise. For instance, Captain Kirk described Cheron as being in the southernmost portion of the Milky Way Galaxy. ("Let That Be Your Last Battlefield") Later, the location of Beta Lyrae was given as 142 degrees northeast of the galactic plane. ("The Slaver Weapon")

This system is based on the galactic coordinate system. In this system, locations left of Sol are to the west and right of Sol are to the east.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_coordinate_system

I realized something I hadn't noticed before about the two charts - the Explored Galaxy seen in "Conspiracy" and the galaxy map seen in "The Emissary".

The first chart shows the region of space from 342 degrees to 354 degrees. This would imply that this is the region of space inhabited by the Federation and other peoples. The sun is located between 348 and 349 degrees.

However, the second chart, which shows a larger view of the galaxy, has the Federation in between 120 degrees and 240 degrees. The region seen in the first chart, according to the second chart, has yet to be explored in 2365. And, according to a real world view of the galaxy, the Sun is located at 180 degrees. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:236084main_MilkyWay-full-annotated.jpg

The galaxy is divided into four quadrants in the real world.
* 1st galactic quadrant – 0° ≤ longitude (ℓ) ≤ 90
* 2nd galactic quadrant – 90° ≤ ℓ ≤ 180
* 3rd galactic quadrant – 180° ≤ ℓ ≤ 270
* 4th galactic quadrant – 270° ≤ ℓ ≤ 360° (0°)

Under this scheme, the Federation is located in and has explored space of the 1st and 2nd galactic quadrants.

Using the warp speed calculator (http://www.anycalculator.com/warpcalculator.htm), the Enterprise would have taken 58 years to reach the galactic edge. For the ship to reach the barrier in less than than a year, it would have needed to be traveling at faster than warp factor 30. It is possible for the Valiant to circumnavigate the Federation if the ship was traveling at warp factor 9.9 for its entire voyage - could a Defiant-class starship do this?

4. ### blssdwlfCommodoreCommodore

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Feb 26, 2010
The times we are given some good distance / time information in TOS was "Obsession" and "That Which Survives" and that pretty much tells us that going between star systems the Enterprise can easily do 1,000 LY in a day. TOS speeds were generally faster when it came to interstellar travel so going to the galactic edge wouldn't have taken too long.

TNG slowed things down a bit and the dialogue puts the E-D at 833c @Warp 9 in "Bloodlines". Voyager sped things up a bit and was often cruising above Warp 9. According to "The 37's", Warp 9.9 was 21,457c.

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Not if the Enterprise were traveling generally either "up"' or "down." The distance to the upper edge of the galactic disc is much less than the distance to the outer most rim.

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Aug 26, 2003
Based on what? The rim has a scale with these running numbers, yes - but the corresponding vertical scale goes from 102 to 106 with a division five times denser. Degrees are a somewhat unlikely unit of measure in either case. And issues of curvature suggest the chart takes significant artistic license, as opposed to really depicting an oddly tilted and compressed pie wedge of a galactic pie, with the galactic core as the vertex and with straight core-centric radial and circular lines denoting the edges of the "sectors". From the star names quoted, we could rather assume that the chart covers only about two degrees of the galactic circle, max.

There would need to be an agreed-upon expression for the directions of "up" and "down" from the plane of the galactic disk, yes. And "north" and "south" would serve very logically there, as they would be defined identically to how they are defined on Earth: with respect to the axis/equator system and the direction of rotation. If you look along the axis so that the planet/galaxy spins counterclockwise, you are looking from north.

We already know Star Trek uses "north" and "south" when describing the division of the galaxy: Cheron of "Let That Be, Let That Beeee, Let That Be, Let That Beeee" was indeed said to be "in the southernmost part of the galaxy". This is a practical definition if we assume an Earth-style definition of south, because this would squeeze Cheron into the compact volume of the bottom vertex of the galaxy; if we decided north was towards the core, then the southernmost part would be the vast, indefinite rim of the galactic disk, and not a practical indication of direction at all. (Of course, assuming that Cheron indeed lies directly beneath the galactic core is probably more trouble than worth in the general Trek context...)

The "northeast" reference from TAS makes much less sense. We can define east and west in Earth style, as the respective synonyms for spinward and antispinward. But "northeast" would have to be from a specific spot or "longitude" of the galaxy, then - there would be no rhyme or reason for anything to be "northeast" of the galactic plane.

We have no idea how far away the Great Barrier would be either from the core or from Earth. For all we know, it blocks travel in the direction of the core within the first few dozen lightyears already. Reaching it would only be the first step on a voyage towards the core - but once you did go there and braved the Barrier, you'd immediately run into the Paradise Prison Planet. (Which in ST5 looked almost exactly like the journey to the core regions in TNG "Nth Degree" did: you hit a scary-looking distortion in space, and suddenly you are at a specific destination far, far away!)

The Defiant herself explicitly could not ("The Sound of Her Voice"). She might have been an atypical example of her class, though.

But a journey consisting of short hops between Federation locations of interest could probably be conducted at much higher speeds than a single stretch of journey through wilderness equal to the sum total of the hops. Starships can clearly reach much higher speeds on short hops than over long distances - and even counting in a lot of breathers and pit stops, the end result might favor a piecemeal journey over a sustained one. But only if the pieces were all within civilized space where the pit stops were of practical benefit; stopping in the middle of wilderness would apparently not allow the ship to regain her strength to an equal degree, hence the much lower average speeds quoted for long journeys.

Timo Saloniemi

7. ### throwbackCaptainCaptain

Joined:
May 27, 2011
In astronomy, in the galactic coordinate system, the Sun is the center. North is above the galactic plane and south is below the galactic plane. East is right of the sun, and west is left of the sun. The galaxy is divided into degrees, both latitude and longitude.

According to "The Explored Galaxy" star chart, I know that Delta Vega is located near the galactic edge. Furthermore, I know that the galactic barrier as at the edge, and that extragalactic space lays outside this barrier. In the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before", there is this line:

And using as a yardstick the distance from Sol to Alpha Centauri, the edge is less than 30 light years from Sol according to this chart.

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Except it was referred to as the rim of the galaxy in "By Any Other Name", in reference to events of "Where No Man..." - so it can't have been up or down, as the Star Trek Star Charts try to fudge.

ROJAN: There is an energy barrier at the rim of your
galaxy.

KIRK: Yes, I know. We've been there.

http://www.chakoteya.net/startrek/50.htm

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Aug 26, 2003
To be exact, East is right of the galactic core as viewed from the Sun. "Right of the Sun" makes it sound as if the Sun were being viewed from some vantage point X, which would just leave everybody confused - especially if X meant Earth (in which case the system would wobble madly against the galactic backdrop)!

This system is somewhat unlikely to be used in Star Trek for its Earth-centricity. A spherical (or cylindrical) coordinate system could just as well be centered at the center of the galaxy, with Sol merely defining the zero longitude; this is what the TNG Tech Manual suggests (going for spherical rather than cylindrical because that's what the starship-centric bearing system obviously uses, too).

FWIW, it appears to be located near the bottom of its coordinate "cubit". So perhaps the edge being referred to is the bottom edge?

Seems so (although we have to ignore the flat out incorrect positioning of certain stars in that chart to support this line of reasoning - Alpha Centauri ought to be in the direction of the galactic core from Sol, not antispinward!).

Then again, perhaps this Delta Vega we are seeing on that chart is the STXI one?

The important thing about the outer Barrier phenomenon is that it is a very thin strip. It's immaterial where in space it is - it doesn't serve as a "circumfence" in the Pratchettian sense, it's just a random line somewhere far away from Earth, and the last item of interest before one reaches the "outside" of our galaxy. But for that very reason, it defines a "rim" all on its own...

It was just too bad for the Kelvans that an approach path from Andromeda might indeed graze the rim of the galactic disk. But not exactly so; it would be much more likely for them to hit the "rim" or "edge" of a phenomenon in our local spiral arm, from slightly "above" the disk.

Timo Saloniemi

10. ### SicOneCommodoreCommodore

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Jan 15, 2008
Location:
Omaha, NE
There's no way to retcon some of the dialogue from TOS and the "Valiant" episode of DS9 to make it fit what we know of the Star Trek universe, to say nothing of the actual real-life physical universe. Just one of those things where little inconsistencies caused by a large writing staff aren't reconcilable. You'll go bananas trying to reconcile them.

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Aug 26, 2003
I'd rather argue that those two things are the ones the most trivially compatible.

After all, TOS emphasizes that Kirk's ship can swiftly move from any part of the galaxy to another, sometimes within a single episode, and always between any given two. Going to the "rim" or "center" of the galaxy is something the heroes or villains can do on a whim, and indeed the only way to hold them back is to erect scary-looking Barriers... DS9 "Valiant" is automatically compatible with that, unless we specifically want to argue that Sisko's ship is markedly slower than Kirk's.

It's from random utterances in TNG and VOY that we might get the impression that the feat in "Valiant" would be difficult to pull off, even with a ship that wasn't reputed to be slow by 24th century standards.

Timo Saloniemi

12. ### Infern0CaptainCaptain

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Oct 17, 2008
If it's 8000 ly across, going by voyager standards it'd take 8 years to traverse at maximum warp in an intrepid, which was the fastest ship in starfleet.

but as others have said, it's plot speed, DS9 was described as being a "remote, frontier" but they could nip back to earth pretty easy

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Aug 26, 2003
I don't think it was ever said that the Intrepid class was the fastest in Starfleet. All we learned was how fast she was, not that others wouldn't be faster.

(FWIW, the ship that did get called the fastest in Starfleet was the Prometheus from "Message in a Bottle". Warp 9.9 was the highest speed the ship did in the episode, and since the VOY hero ship can demonstrably do better than that, it follows that we never learned the exact top speed of the Prometheus.)

Also, even if it takes the VOY hero ship 70 years to do 70,000 ly, it doesn't necessarily follow that it would take 7 years to do 7,000, let alone 0.7 years to do 700. The shorter the trip, the higher the speed that can be maintained, apparently... After all, the E-D was supposed to cover about 7,000 ly in less than three years in "Q Who?". Or then the E-D was twice as fast as the Voyager, which is a very real possibility. That is, as regards "on paper" top speeds, which are the ones being discussed in both cases. I practice, we have seen both ships run into major problems around warp 9.7.

Timo Saloniemi

14. ### blssdwlfCommodoreCommodore

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Feb 26, 2010
Technically, the distance from system J-25 to "the nearest starbase" (Starbase 185) was never established. We just know that the time would 2 years, 7 months, etc to cover that distance but not the time it would take to go from J-25 back to the point of departure (which is 7,000 LY).

Last edited: Feb 19, 2013

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Aug 26, 2003
True enough. But going from an arbitrary point within the UFP to beyond the farthest limit of exploration has never taken years - in "Tin Man", it's a matter of only "several days", or 28 stardates at most. The bulk of the travel time in "Q Who?" could thus still be assumed to be between J-25 and the general starting point within UFP territory, as it would make limited sense for SB 185 to lie much farther out than Beta Stromgren did in "Tin Man".

At best, we would be looking at a situation where the bulk of the 8,000 ly Federation lies between the starting point and SB 185 / J-25. But even then, the bulk of the Federation has never been that big an obstacle, as this thread stands testimony - so we're back to square one or thereabouts, and quite tempted to assume that the starting point and SB 185 or indeed any SB will be much closer to each other than those thousands of lightyears.

Timo Saloniemi

16. ### indoloverFleet Captain

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Jan 23, 2010
The 8000 light year figure doesn't seem to fit with how the Enterprise-D would traverse almost opposite ends of the Federation per season.

I think it may make sense in 3D/cubic terms, meaning that the Federation "as the crow flies" is about 600-700 light years across.

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Mar 8, 2001
Location:
Great Britain
It all comes down to the needs of the plot always had done, and no doubt always will.

Someone cited VOY at Warp 9.9 was ~21 500c which mean the trip home would take 3.5 or so years and not the 70 so often stated.

But it wasn't plot conveniant. So it was ignored. A part of any TV audiance doesn't care about such things, whilst others do. If we take another franchise with multiple spin-offs say the L&0 universe, do we as an audiance expect conistancy between the various shows, such as who is DA? or that if one show says the death penatly can't ber saought do we expect that to apply in all shows unless they state in dialouge that the policy has changed?

18. ### blssdwlfCommodoreCommodore

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Feb 26, 2010
Sure, I'm not debating how long it would take to cross Federation space - only that we lack distance information for the J-25 example.

19. ### KarnbelnLieutenant CommanderRed Shirt

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Feb 7, 2009
Maybe the velocity obtained by a warp factor differs depending on the gravitational and subspace properties of that area of space. Warp 9 could be equal to a certain velocity near Vulcan, but a lesser speed in Borg space. It is just a measure of how much you are bending space-time, not the effect that bending has.