This tip is an oldie but a goodie, originally posted here in 2004. How to create illustrator rays that taper outward. This is easily done (with Illustrator) in a few simple steps.
Step 1: Create a starburst, by option clicking with the star tool. Radius 1: 2”, radius 2: 1”, points: 20. Change the parameters to your liking. Apply a radial gradient.
Step 2: Create an circle (a rectangle or other shape will also work). Apply a different radial gradient. Make a copy of the circle.
Step 3: Merge the starburst and the circle . Align both objects centered vertically and horizontally. Then use the pathfinder
“Intersect” “Minus Back” (if the star is behind) option (this will purge the out points of the star).
Step 4: Here’s the trick: use the direction selection (open arrow tool) to select just the inside points of the intersected star. Use the scale tool (option click) to scale these points to the very center.
Step 5: Align center the new “Ray” with the copy of the circle made in step 2.
Step 6: Optional… tweak the radial gradients for both the “ray” and the circle. add a clipping mask to the desired shape.
Animate: Just change the rotation, gradient and size to animate motion with the rays.