Excerpt from A Past Outside of Time A New Model for the Dark Forest
Trisolaris was shattered three years and ten months after the start of the Broadcast Era. No one had expected the attack to come so soon after the gravitational wave broadcast.
Since Trisolaris had always been under intense surveillance, plenty of data was captured concerning its extinction. The attack on the Trisolaran system was identical to the attack on Luo Ji’s 187J3X1: A small object traveling near the speed of light struck one of the three stars in the system and destroyed it through its relativistically amplified mass. At the time, Trisolaris had just started to revolve around the star, and the stellar explosion annihilated the planet.
When it made the gravitational wave broadcast, Gravity was about three light-years from Trisolaris. Taking into account the lightspeed propagation of gravitational waves, the photoid must have been launched from a point that was even closer to Trisolaris than Gravity—and the launch must have been practically instantaneous after receiving the coordinates. Observations confirmed this: The trail of the photoid traversing the interstellar dust cloud near Trisolaris was clearly recorded, but there were no other solar systems within this zone of space
—the only conclusion was that the photoid had been launched from a spacecraft.
The old model for dark forest theory had always assumed planetary systems around stars as the foundation. People simply assumed that attacks on systems whose coordinates had been exposed must come from other planetary systems. But once the possibility of attacks from spacecraft entered the scene, the situation became far more complex. While the locations of stars were relatively well known, humans had no information at all concerning spacecraft made by other intelligences—save for the Trisolaran Fleet. How many extraterrestrial spaceships were there? How densely were they deployed in space? How fast did they fly? What were their headings? There were no answers to these questions.
The possible sources of dark forest attacks could no longer be predicted, and the attacks might come much faster than previously imagined. Other than the surviving stars of the Trisolaran system, the nearest star was six light-years from the Solar System. But the ghostlike alien spaceships could be, at that moment, passing next to the Sun. Death, once only a figure on the horizon, now loomed before our eyes.
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