Inspired by multiple factors, really, including the recent thread on the same star system. And I couldn't figure out a better subforum to post this, so this is going here.
Anyways, lets say that over time, as our instruments and detection methods and techniques get better and better (within reason, of course), we eventually figure out that, short of actually going there to find out for sure, Alpha Centauri (Proxima included) simply does *not* have any planets whatsoever? (Dunno how much of a stretch this actually is...)
Then what? What happens next? Do we just sit here, assuming that we're not pretty much trapped here anyway as discussions here and elsewhere (off-site) seem to imply? Or do we try to figure out what we're going to do next?
As far as I can tell, the next 10 or 11 stars out after Alpha Centauri A, B, and C are M dwarves, which will almost certainly result in tidally-locked dystopias, an A star, and a brown dwarf. The nearest star that has a marginally better chance of supporting us is a K star about 10 light years away, which also happens to have its own exoplanet system; albeit gaseous.
What do we do if Alpha Centauri turns out to be a disappointment in the exoplanet realm?