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CGS-emu (or "electromagnetic cgs") units are one of several systems of electromagnetic units within the centimetre gram second system of units; others include CGS-esu, Gaussian units, and Lorentz–Heaviside units. In these other systems, the abcoulomb is not used; CGS-esu and Gaussian units use the statcoulomb is instead, while the Lorentz-Heaviside unit of charge has no specific name.
In the electromagnetic cgs system, electric current is a fundamental quantity defined via Ampère's law and takes the permeability as a dimensionless quantity (relative permeability) whose value in a vacuum is unity. As a consequence, the square of the speed of light appears explicitly in some of the equations interrelating quantities in this system.
The definition of the abcoulomb follows from that of the abampere: given two parallel currents of one abampere separated by one centimetre, the force per distance of wire is 2 dyn/cm. The abcoulomb is the charge flowing in 1 second given a current of 1 abampere.