An impossible object (also known as an impossible figure or an undecidable figure) is a type of optical illusion consisting of a two-dimensional figure which is instantly and subconsciously interpreted by the visual system as representing a projection of a three-dimensional object although it is not actually possible for such an object to exist (at least not in the form interpreted by the visual system).
In most cases the impossibility becomes apparent after viewing the figure for a few seconds. However, the initial impression of a 3D object remains even after it has been contradicted. There are also more subtle examples of impossible objects where the impossibility does not become apparent spontaneously and it is necessary to consciously examine the geometry of the implied object to determine that it is impossible.
Impossible objects are of interest to psychologists, mathematicians and artists without falling entirely into any one discipline.