Oumuamua a solar sail?
In early November of 2018 a flurry of news articles erupted speculating that the mysterious interstellar object 1I/2017 U1 (aka, ‘Oumuamua), that buzzed through the solar system in 2017 might in fact be an extraterestrial technology, maybe a discarded solar sail
The evidence supporting this hypothesis is the fact that the object seemed to accelerate in ways inconsistent with a passive trajectory. It sped up as it moved away from the sun. This acceleration could be explained by outgassing from the object, as comets do as the approach the sun. But there was no evidence of such outgassing, leading the researchers to speculate that the acceleration was caused by radiation pressure on a solar sail.
In the story — near-future speculative fiction set in the years 2019 to 2022 — ‘Oumuamua was followed by a series of similar objects, the last of which, 8I/2019 K1, “Whiro”, moves in a way that clearly indicates a form of propulsion, is obviously an extraterrestrial technology, and may, in fact, be a solar sail. Whiro visits Earth with disastrous consequences.
The Shade was published July 3, 2018, and I began writing the story in December 2017, only a few weeks after the announcement of ‘Oumuamua, and many months before the solar sail announcement, so I’m sure there’s no connection to my story, but it’s a fun coincidence.
A version of this story was first published on jp-fosterson.github.io in December 2018.