Math. Proc. Cambridge Philos. Soc. 158 (2015), no. 2, 365–383. Also available on the arXiv. We partition the fast escaping set of a transcendental entire function into two subsets, the maximally fast escaping set and the non-maximally fast escaping set. These sets are shown to have strong dynamical properties. We show that the intersection of the Julia set with the non-maximally fast escaping set is never empty. The proof uses a new covering result for annuli, which is of wider interest.

It was shown by Rippon and Stallard that the fast escaping set has no bounded components. In contrast, by studying a function considered by Hardy, we give an example of a transcendental entire function for which the maximally and non-maximally fast escaping sets each have uncountably many singleton components.