Peer-reviewed claims of a small planet around Alpha Centauri B in 2012 evaporated a few years later, found to be products of stellar noise.) “If it’s in the habitable zone around Alpha Centauri A, that’s an Earthlike orbit, so observing six months later would probably have nailed it,” Fischer says. “Without that, this isn’t a planet detection paper, it’s a demonstration of NEAR’s capability to monitor Alpha Centauri in the mid-infrared. “Because Alpha Centauri A is a twin of our own sun and less than five light-years away, it really is our closest solar neighbor,” Beichman says. Some of these could image and search for signs of life on small rocky planets around Alpha Centauri as well as many other nearby stars.