Multimessenger Implications of AT2018cow: High-energy Cosmic-Ray and Neutrino Emissions from Magnetar-powered Superluminous Transients
Newly born, rapidly spinning magnetars have been invoked as the power sources of superluminous transients, including the class of “fast blue optical transients” (FBOTs). The extensive multiwavelength analysis of AT2018cow, the first FBOT discovered in real time, is consistent with the magnetar scenario and offers an unprecedented opportunity to comprehend the nature of these sources and assess their broader implications. Using AT2018cow as a prototype, we investigate high-energy neutrino and cosmic-ray production from FBOTs and the more general class of superluminous supernovae (SLSNe). By calculating the interaction of cosmic rays and the time-evolving radiation field and baryon background, we find that particles accelerated in the magnetar wind may escape the ejecta at ultrahigh energies. The predicted high-energy neutrino fluence from AT2018cow is below the sensitivity of the IceCube Observatory, and estimates of the cosmically integrated neutrino flux from FBOTs are consistent with the extreme-high-energy upper limits posed by IceCube. High-energy γ rays exceeding GeV energies are obscured for the first months to years by thermal photons in the magnetar nebula, but are potentially observable at later times. Given their potentially higher volumetric rate compared to other engine-powered transients (e.g., SLSNe and gamma-ray bursts), we conclude that FBOTs are favorable targets for current and next-generation multimessenger observatories.