Neutron stars come of age

About 50 years after their discovery, neutron stars are poised to take center stage in this era of multi-messenger astrophysics. In the not-so-distant-future (10-20 years) it is likely that next generation gravitational wave observatories will detect gravitational waves from hundreds of mergers involving neutron stars every year. I will highlight advances in theory and mention some key observations that have already provided fundamental new insights about neutron star properties and their central role in nuclear astrophysics. I will discuss how neutron stars, and extreme phenomena involving them, can serve as laboratories to study phase transitions in dense matter, nucleosynthesis, and dark matter in the coming decades.