Many explorers have heard of the great potential power of neutron stars. These rare remnants are scattered across the galaxy, offering a tantalizing bonus to any pilots nearby: a one-shot fourfold increase in FSD range. However, these stars are also traps for would-be explorers, buckyballers, or any other pilots, and have destroyed many a ship and galactic travel guide.
Any excited pilots looking to take advantage of these supernova remnants should be careful, though. Boosting with a neutron star is a difficult, dangerous, and complicated process. You’re likely to damage your ship, your genome, and most importantly void your warranty. However, you can mitigate the risks to health and home by educating yourself on the proper care and handling for a neutron star.
Before attempting to boost with a star, you should know a few things about piloting your ship. Make sure you’re comfortable with fuel scooping, heat management, and jumping to and from supercruise and witchspace. Ensure that your ship’s insurance policy, your life insurance policy, and your radiation-shielding absorbent undergarments are in place. Finally, make sure that your ship has a well-repaired FSD, an AFMU, and an operating fuel scoop, otherwise, you won’t be able to boost or repair yourself. A good starting system for players is Jackson’s Lighthouse. Don’t try to start off with a white dwarf, they are fickle and far more difficult, and you will likely hurt yourself.
Once you’ve arrived at a potential star, approach slowly in supercruise to avoid frightening it. I recommend throttling to zero until you’re ready to go. Take note of the exclusion zone when moving (make sure your ship’s HUD is set to project orbit lines), and make sure to fly around the star, rather than close near it, to avoid accidentally making a deadly emergency drop. Approach the cone somewhat in the middle, and aim your ship outwards towards the wider end.. Move slowly though it until your ship informs you that you have been thoroughly irradiated and your FSD is charged, and then run full throttle out of there to minimize the cancer risk. A useful guide can be found below and here.
After you’ve read through that guide, you might be wondering how such a convoluted process could make travelling faster. Through personal experience, I can say it definitely does, although if you make a mistake, the consequences can cause a significant delay. Here’s my own analysis and an idea of how much of an improvement these stars can present:
In my exploration rated Anaconda, I can make jumps approaching 80ly without synthetic assistant. It takes about 45 seconds to complete one jump if I run as fast as possible. This works out to a total speed of 6,400 ly/hr, or about one Colonia every 3½ hours. However, when using neutron stars, I can do about 12,500 ly/hr, reaching Colonia in about two hours, not including routing or fuel time. This is about a twofold increase in speed, which is a rather nice bonus.
While modern navigation computers possess rudimentary support for the handling of neutron stars, they aren’t perfect. Often, they’ll route around or miss worthwhile stars, meaning that your boosted jumps will be quite rare. You’ll get much better results if you help them out a little by jumping to the start of a pre-planned neutron route and selecting every few stars afterwards to stay “on track.” You can use an online tool such as spansh to assist in your efforts. (A good efficiency is around 80-90%, as that works exceptionally well closer to the core. If you more farther out, you may want to lower that down to 60% or so.)
In conclusion, neutron stars offer a dangerous but useful shortcut for experienced explorers. If you’re just starting out, I recommend steering clear of them for now.
– CMDR waterlubber