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The L-shell, L-value, or McIlwain L-parameter is a parameter describing a particular set of planetary magnetic field lines. Colloquially, L-value often describes the set of magnetic field lines which cross the Earth's magnetic equator at a number of Earth-radii equal to the L-value. For example, "" describes the set of the Earth's magnetic field lines which cross the Earth's magnetic equator two earth radii from the center of the Earth. L-shell parameters can also describe the magnetic fields of other planets. In such cases, the parameter is renormalized for that planet's radius and magnetic field model. Although L-value is formally defined in terms of the Earth's true instantaneous magnetic field, it is often used to give a general picture of magnetic phenomena near the Earth, in which case it can be approximated using the dipole model of the Earth's magnetic field.
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