Are we alone in the universe? Could life exist on other planets? Questions like these have inspired countless science fiction stories, but at the University of Exeter’s Astrophysics department, these queries are at the forefront of research. The department is using a range of supercomputers coupled with its own open source software to study how stars and planets are formed. Running computer simulations of how planets and stars form in different parts of the universe and under many different conditions should give scientists some indication of what types of planets and stars they could find in the further reaches of space.