WASHINGTON: The Sun has unleashed a powerful storm, sending an enormous cloud of superheated particles rocketing towards Earth at a mind-boggling speed of 3.3 million kilometre per hour. On August 20, the Sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME, a solar phenomenon which can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. "These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground," NASA said. Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory show that the CME left the Sun at speeds of around 570 miles per second or 3.3 million km/h, which is a fairly typical speed for CMEs. Earth-directed CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when they funnel energy into Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time. Early in 2012, the largest solar flare in six years caused problems for some GPS systems, airline communications systems and satellites for a few days. Several airlines, including Delta and United, diverted flights that normally travel over the North and South Poles, as well as some high-altitude routes. In March 2012, another solar storm hit the Earth's magnetic field, though it was considered a low-level event. The CME's magnetic fields peel back the outermost layers of Earth's fields changing their very shape. "In the past, geomagnetic storms caused by CMEs of this strength have usually been mild," NASA said. NASA warned the magnetic storms can degrade communication signals and cause unexpected electrical surges in power grids. They also can cause aurora - a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere.