The starburst effect generally refers to the phenomenon where radial bright lines emerge from a light source in photographs. In this work, the light intensity distribution of the diffraction pattern is calculated and carefully measured, which shows a power-law decay with the distance to the image center. The exponent of the power-law decay depends on the shape of the aperture. A specific method is proposed to calculate the analytical solution of the diffraction pattern caused by a polygonal hole, which is based on the superposition principle of light amplitudes. The dominant factors on this effect are also investigated experimentally, such as the aperture size and light parallelism. This paper provides a systematic study for the starburst effect, which can be used in teaching students majoring in physics.

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