Determination of a time-shift in the OPERA set-up using high-energy horizontal muons in the LVD and OPERA detectors
The purpose of this work is to report the measurement of a time-shift in the OPERA set-up in a way totally independent of the Time-Of-Flight (TOF) measurements of CNGS neutrino events and without the need to know the distance between the two laboratories, CERN and LNGS, where the neutrinos are produced and detected, respectively. The LVD and OPERA experiments are both installed in the same laboratory: LNGS. The relative position of the two detectors, separated by an average distance of ∼ 160 m, allows the use of very high-energy horizontal muons to cross-calibrate the timing systems of the two detectors, using a TOF technique, which, as stated above, is totally independent of the TOF of CNGS neutrino events. Indeed, the OPERA-LVD direction lies along the so-called "Teramo anomaly", a region in the Gran Sasso massif where LVD has established, many years ago, the existence of an anomaly in the mountain structure, which exhibits a low m.w.e. thickness for horizontal directions. The "abundant" high-energy horizontal muons (nearly 100 per year) going through LVD and OPERA exist because of this anomaly in the mountain orography. The total live time of the data in coincidence between the two experiments correspond to 1200 days from mid 2007 until March 2012. The time coincidence study of LVD and OPERA detectors is based on 306 cosmic-horizontal-muon events and shows the existence of a negative time-shift in the OPERA set-up of the order of ∆t AB = -(73 ± 9) when two calendar periods, A and B, are compared. The first, A, goes from August 2007 to August 2008 plus the period from January 2012 to March 2012; the second period, B, goes from August 2008 to December 2011. This result shows a systematic effect in the OPERA timing system present from August 2008 until December 2011. The size of the effect, in terms of the cosmic horizontal muons TOF, is comparable with the neutrino velocity excess recently measured by OPERA. It is probably interesting not to forget that with the MRPC technology developed by the ALICE Bologna group the TOF world record accuracy of 20 ps was reached. This technology can be implemented at LNGS for a high-precision determination of TOF with the CNGS neutrino beams. If new experiments are needed for the study of neutrino velocities they must be able to detect effects an order of magnitude smaller than the value of the OPERA systematic effect.