Sylvia is very dark in color and probably has a very primitive composition. The discovery of its moons made possible an accurate measurement of the asteroid's mass and density. Its density was found to be very low (around 1.2 times the density of water), indicating that the asteroid is porous to very porous; from 25% to as much as 60% of it may be empty space, depending on the details of its composition. However, the mineralogy of the X-type asteroids is not known well enough to constrain this further. Either way, this suggests a loose rubble pile structure. Sylvia is also a fairly fast rotator, turning about its axis every 5.18 hours (giving an equatorial rotation velocity of about 230 km/h or 145 mph). The short axis is the rotation axis. Direct images indicate that Sylvia's pole points towards ecliptic coordinates (β, λ) = (+62.6°, 72.4°) with only a 0.5° uncertainty, which gives it an axial tilt of around 29.1°. Sylvia's shape is strongly elongated.
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