Maw Installation was an Imperial research center established by Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin for the creation of superweapons. It was built from asteroids in the midst of the Maw Cluster, a virtually unnavigable cluster of black holes.
No one knows exactly how the Maw came into existence. It has been there as long as records have been kept. There are two main theories as to how it came into existence. The first is that an ancient, powerful race built it, however how they may have achieved this, or how they met their downfall is unknown. The second theory is that it is a natural phenomena, perhaps caused by a massive star breaking into fragments and each fragment collapsing in on itself.
One of these black holes swallowed up the Sun Crusher, as Durron successfully managed to pilot it into its gravity well, yet escaped himself.
The installation itself was Tarkin's secret technology resource. He held complete control there, as he gave the responsibility for its defense to Daala, making her the sole female Admiral in the Imperial Navy.
Daala's defense fleet consisted of four Star Destroyers: Gorgon, Hydra, Basilisk, and Manticore. The Maw Installation's existence was exposed after Han Solo and Kyp Durron, fleeing the nearby Kessel, found themselves inside the cluster. The installation was left undefended for a time, as Daala went on a brief guerrilla assault on the New Republic. It was later destroyed in a self-destruct, but not before Daala returned and recovered all the new weapons concepts from the main computer.
Numerous experiments were made into producing revolutionary new sources of technology while under Imperial rule. It seems that certain members of the 'think tank' were unaware of the military role of the projects and many saw that the developments would be used on a peaceful basis. For example, the Ionic Ring was developed on the basis of being a terraforming tool while the World Devastators were to be used as automated factories that would mine asteroids. Instead, these creations became some of the most destructive weapons known in the galaxy. While working on the Death Star, certain scientists believed that the superlaser was designed to destroy dead planets for harvesting to be made on the materials hidden nearer the core of the world.
Kevin J. Anderson, the author of Jedi Academy trilogy, worked as a technical editor and writer at the large government research lab, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which has many similarities to the Maw installation. Anderson insist, despite the similarities, that LLNL has nothing to do with the creation of the Maw Installation.[]