While it may appear the Star Wars universe is expansive and all-encompassing, there are still parts of the galaxy that have yet to be explored, both for fans and the characters. Among the most cryptic and discussed parts of the Star Wars galaxy are the Unknown Regions. To most of the characters in Star Wars, the Unknown Regions are an unfamiliar place shrouded in mystery and legend. Yet the sector and the many Unknown Regions species have played crucial roles throughout the Skywalker saga. Locations and people from the Unknown Regions play a major role in the events of all three Star Wars trilogies, with everything coming to a head on Exegol in the series-concluding Rise of Skywalker.
The Unknown Regions Are Distinct From 'Wild Space'Photo: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary / DK Children
There are actually two different "unmapped" regions within the Star Wars universe: the Unknown Regions and Wild Space. As explained by Lucasfilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo - the guy whose job is keeping track of one cohesive Star Wars canon - the Unknown Regions are within the borders of the known galaxy, but what exactly is inside the Unknown Regions is mostly undiscovered. Meanwhile, "Wild Space" is the region of the Star Wars galaxy beyond the borders of the known galaxy.
The Unknown Regions also border the Outer Rim, the sparsely populated frontier of Imperial space. As a frame of reference, the desert planet of Tatooine is located in the Outer Rim.
It Takes Several Months To Travel Through The Regions, Even In HyperspacePhoto: The Force Awakens / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Unknown Regions are notoriously dangerous and difficult to navigate. As explained in Chuck Wendig's novel Star Wars Aftermath: Empire's End, the Unknown Regions are "closed off by a labyrinth of solar storms, rogue magnetospheres, black holes, gravity wells, and things far stranger." The Unknown Regions are so dangerous that even the Old Republic, the political organization that governed the galaxy centuries before the Empire, was never able to chart it. Explorers sent to the Unknown Regions perished, disappeared, or went insane.
Emperor Palpatine eventually discovered a route through the Unknown Regions based on the many expeditions he sent into the space, but even that route took several months to navigate.
Young Jedi Ventured To The Unknown Regions To Get Their Kyber CrystalsPhoto: Rebels / Disney XD
One of the major locations within the Unknown Regions is the planet of Ilum. This snow-covered planet was home to the Crystal Cave, a maze-like underground cave that is the origin of kyber crystals, the gems used to power lightsabers.
During the days of the Jedi Order, Jedi Padawans would voyage to Ilum to gather kyber crystals in a ritual called "The Gathering." Over time, Ilum became one of the holiest sites of the Jedi Order.
The Emperor Sent Expeditions To The Regions To Create Shipyards And LaboratoriesPhoto: Revenge of the Sith / 20th Century Fox
During the Age of the Empire, Emperor Palpatine was obsessed with the Unknown Regions. To prepare against emerging threats, Palpatine devoted considerable resources to exploring and settling the area.
Before the events of The Force Awakens, the planet of Jakku (Rey's homeworld, and the site of a major clash between the remnants of the Empire and the New Republic) was home to an observatory dedicated to mapping a safe route through the Unknown Regions. Over his years in power, Palpatine was able to have several storehouses, shipyards, and laboratries built in the region, with a particular focus on the planet Exogol.