Dr Nur Adlyka Ainul Annuar made headlines when she discovered the existence of active supermassive black holes hidden behind a cloud of space gas and dust in galaxy NGC1448.

Acting as the head researcher of a team of astronomers from all over the world, the 28-year-old made the extraordinary discovery while doing her doctorate in Astrophysics, at Centre of Extragalactic Astronomy, Durham University, in the United Kingdom.

The astronomical finding was made possible with the use of National Aeronautics and Space Administrations’ (NASA) latest X-ray telescope, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array or NuSTAR.

She presented her findings at the 229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society with a presentation titled “Black Holes, Green Galaxies, Old Stars & NuSTARs”.

Dr Nur Adlyka, who is also a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) lecturer, said that to date, the black holes she and her team discovered were some of the faintest and most heavily obscured supermassive black holes known.

“These black holes are relatively close to the Milky Way, but they have remained hidden from us until now. They’re like monsters hiding under your bed.

“Our findings bring significant impact to the astronomy field as it will help scientists find answers to the many mysteries of the galaxies,” she said.

The degree holder in BSc (Bachelor of Science) in Physics and Astrophysics from University of Sheffield, United Kingdom has since returned home to Malaysia to serve the society.

“I hope that by being here I could inspire others to be engaged in astronomy and provide them with an opportunity to pursue it locally,” she added.

Dr Nur Adlyka said she would pursue her work on hidden active supermassive black holes in UKM.