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You are seeing those characters in the TOC in the output? Also in the TOC editor? Can you delete them there?
These are characters that you will see in some internal RH files if they are opened in a text editor and that should never be seen in the project. Have you been doing any tweaking of such files?
RH7 allows you to create more than one TOC. Create a new one with just a few files in it. Generate using that TOC and see if that works correctly.
Do you know why the topic is opening in the CONTENTS pane?
I don't know the cause of  but am hoping fixing the first will fix that.
Is there any documentation that shows the purpose of the files in Robohelp 7?
eHlpDhtm.js - what does it do?
whtdhtml.htm - what does it do?
The purpose of the whxdata, whgdata, and whdata folders.
Is there anything documentated to help me understand their functions?
RH7's help (at least offline) includes the following topic:
Home > Default layouts > WebHelp > Distributing WebHelp > WebHelp output files
I searched for "output files WebHelp" to get this topic. It explains the files you listed and more.
First of all, RH7 has introduced some new and some changed project files, none of which you should be editing, and none of which you should be mixing between project versions (I suspect that's the case here.)
You also seem to be mixing up source and output files, as evidenced by your later posting, where you question the use of these:
eHlpDhtm.js - what does it do? ( internal-to-RH source file)
whtdhtml.htm - what does it do? ( output file that holds TOC styles and calls internal-to-RH source files)
The purpose of the whxdata, whgdata, and whdata folders ( output folders that contain .js, .htm, and .xml files that spread around the info for TOC, Index, and Search, for quicker performance)
You should have made a copy of your X5 project somewhere, then opened RH7 and imported the project. Keep in mind that once a project is opened in RH7, it cannot be opened in X5 (therefore the admonition to copy the project elsewhere before you begin.