The '*' character in this context is a sigil for typeglobs. It is to typeglobs approximately as '$' is to scalars, '%' is to hashes, '@' is to arrays, and '&' is to subroutines.
See perldoc perldata | Typeglobs and Filehandles.
In this case 'XML' is a bareword filehandle. It is being passed as a typeglob to the get_data() function, which presumably is populating %hash with a dump of the XML file.
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